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Messi can leave but asking price is £200m, Barcelona now insists

El Desperados, Barcelona, are mucho anxious to avoid a legal battle with intense global public scrutiny with Lionel Messi at all costs but have stood firm by telling him he can only leave for a fee of £200million instead of the original buyout-clause of £700million.

Messi handed in a transfer request after new Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman told him his ‘privileges in the squad were over’ in Gunfight-At OK-Corral-style showdown talks about his future.

Manchester City, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain in the frontline leading the race to sign the Argentinian star this summer but will have to part with an eye-watering sum to land their man, as per AS.

Messi has a clause in his contract allowing him to move for free provided he informed the club he wanted to leave 20 days prior to June 10 – which was initially the end of season date.

The 33-year-old’s legal advisers are however insistently arguing that he should have had an extended period to indicate he wanted out as the ‘end of the season’ this year was the final of the Champions League between Bayern Munich and PSG on August 23. Which makes absolutely perfect sense.

Messi is anxious and eager for a fresh challenge but realises few clubs will be able to finance a move for him and so is exploring the possibility of departing for free despite having one year left on his deal.

It is understood Messi only made it clear that he wanted to sign for another club this summer in the days leading up to Sunday’s final, and Barcelona are hoping he would not have a legal case if they denied his exit.

Barcelona are however painfully aware it will be impossible to retain Messi but are not willing to allow him to leave for free and are seeking a world-record fee of £200m.

AS report that Barcelona are desperately trying to avoid taking Messi to court and have told him he can go but their valuation needs to be met first.

Reports in Spain claim Messi has already held behind-the-scenes conversations with his former boss Pep Guardiola about the prospects of moving to Manchester City and continuing th eir trophies-seeking golden exploits from the grand, good old Barca heydays.

Other reports in Spain have suggested that United have opened up negotiations with Barcelona and the player’s agent while PSG and Inter have also expressed interest.

Credit: Football Tribe Malaysia