Madrid (AFP)

Earthquake on the planet of football: Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi (33), still under contract with FC Barcelona until June 30, 2021, communicated to the club on Tuesday by registered mail that he wishes "unilaterally" to terminate his contract.

Annoyed by the terrible 8-2 rout in the Champions League quarter-final on August 14 against Bayern Munich, future winner of the event, tired by a nightmarish season and bored by an unconvincing sporting project, the legend Leo Messi followed through on his threats. The Argentine announced to the club on Tuesday that he wanted to end his love affair with FC Barcelona.

The player's lawyers have sent the club a registered letter in which they announce Messi's willingness to terminate his contract unilaterally, under a clause that expired on June 10. But the club considers that his contract is still valid until June 30, 2021, a source within the Catalan club confirmed to AFP on Tuesday evening.

"In principle, this clause expired on June 10, but the atypical nature of this season cut by the coronavirus has paved the way for Messi to ask to be released from his contract now. This is a first step towards l 'opening of negotiations for his departure, on the basis of his release clause which amounts to 700 million euros, "said Marca, Spain's best-selling newspaper on Tuesday evening.

This warning shot could therefore be followed by a showdown between experts to determine whether the validity of this clause can be extended, given that the season in Spain was cut between March and June.

- "More outside" -

After months of publicly showing its weariness in the face of a ruined club and a catastrophic season, between disappointing sporting results and cascading scandals, the six-fold Ballon d'Or has taken action.

According to the Spanish sports press, Messi met with new Barca coach Ronald Koeman last week and told him he saw himself "more outside than inside" of the club.

This "total bomb", as Argentina's main sports newspaper Olé called it, comes eleven days after Barça's terrible 8-2 rout against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final after a catastrophic season , which launched a revolution within the Catalan club.

In the process, coach Quique Setién was sacked, replaced by Ronald Koeman. The latter would have, according to the Catalan specialist press, communicated on Monday to Messi's great friend, the Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, that he did not count on him for next season, like other Barça executives like Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti.

A phone call that undoubtedly precipitated the starting desires of the Blaugrana legend.

"Respect and admiration, Leo. All my support, my friend," former Blaugrana legend Carles Puyol wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night.

"When you lock a tiger in a cage, he does not surrender, he fights !!!", posted the Chilean teammate of Messi Arturo Vidal, this Tuesday evening on Twitter.

- End of a love story? -

If Messi leaves Catalonia, it would be the end of a long and beautiful love affair between Argentina's Pulga ("chip", in Spanish) and Barça: arrived at the club in 2000 at the age of 13, Messi then climbed all the ranks within one of the most prestigious clubs in the world to end up obtaining the status of "best player of all time", as it is assured in Barcelona.

It is above all an earthquake for the football world, which has trouble imagining the Argentinian superstar in colors other than Catalan red and blue.

Negotiations around his astronomical release clause, set so far at 700 million euros, will be decisive for his eventual departure from the club, as was the case for the transfer of his eternal Portuguese rival Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid to Juventus Turin, in July 2018, against 105 million euros.

According to the specialized press, three clubs would have the means to claim to be able to welcome the Argentinian legend into their ranks: Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan and Manchester City.

© 2020 AFP