It will be difficult for Lionel Messi to remain at Barcelona after he made public his desire to leave the Spanish club, his father and agent Jorge Messi said today as he arrived in the city to negotiate his son's future.
After flying in on a private jet, Jorge Messi was expected to meet club president Josep Maria Bartomeu later on Wednesday to discuss his son's future, Spanish media reported.
A club spokesperson declined to comment.
The six-time world player of the year insists he has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave on a free transfer - a claim disputed by Barcelona and La Liga, who say the Argentine can only leave if a rival club is willing to pay a €700m buyout clause.
Barcelona say the clause expired in June but Messi believes it is still valid due to the Covid-19 disrupted nature of the previous season.
"I don't know, I know nothing," Messi's father told Spanish TV channel Cuatro when asked if the 33-year-old would leave the only club he has played for professionally.
"But when pressed if it would be hard for him to remain, he said "yes". And asked how he sees Messi's future at Barcelona, he replied "difficult, difficult".
Messi Snr dodged questions on whether Manchester City would be a good option for his son. A move to Manchester City would allow Messi to link up with his former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.
"I don't know, there's nothing yet," he said, adding he had not had any discussions with Guardiola, who enjoyed trophy-laden years as Barcelona manager with Messi in his pomp.
Messi did not show up on Monday for the first training session of the season under new coach Ronald Koeman.