The Argentine superstar, 34, attempted to leave the Nou Camp last summer in extraordinary circumstances but opted to commit to the club in a bid to avoid a complex legal battle over the eligibility of an exit clause in his contract.
With a year remaining on his deal, the Catalonians have worked hard to get Messi on side over the past 12 months and negotiations over a new deal have been under way for some time.
Spanish newspapers have stressed ‘calm’ among fans after Lionel Messi became a free agent
The 34-year-old’s contract expired last night and the Argentine is now officially a free agent
However, club chiefs are yet to reach an agreement with Messi over extended terms and as a result, he is now a free agent after his contract expired at midnight on July 1.
And Spain’s typically brutal media have taken a relaxed stance over the latest development in the Messi saga, urging Barcelona’s naturally concerned fans for ‘calm’ with the club still expected to secure the superstar on new terms.
AS’ front page this morning reads ‘two cracks walk free’ with an image of Messi and Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who waved goodbye to the Bernabeu in emotional scenes earlier this month.
AS’ front page read ‘two cracks walk free’ alongside a picture of Messi and Sergio Ramos
Sport’s front page read ‘calm down about Messi’ with a pic of the player and Joan Laporta
Mundo Deportivo’s front page said ‘Messi? Calm’ with the club confident of keeping the star
The front page reads: ‘Messi leaves Barcelona, although the club believe he will renew after the Copa America’.
Messi is currently representing his country in the South American tournament in Brazil, where Argentina are preparing to take on Ecuador in the quarter final on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Sport’s front page features an image of Messi shaking the hand of Barcelona president Joan Laporta alongside the headline: ‘Calm down about Messi’.
‘Laporta is calm about Messi’s renewal, although it’s not closed yet,’ the front page reads. ‘From today, Messi is no longer a Barcelona player, but the club are optimistic it will only be for a matter of days.’
Club chiefs remain confident that Messi will commit his future for the forthcoming two years
Reports in Spain suggest the new contract could be agreed following the Copa America
Mundo Deportivo’s front page features the words: ‘Messi? Calm.’ The publication reports that Messi’s availability as a free agent is an unwanted situation, with the club still viewing the Argentine’s commitment to the club as crucial for their sporting, commercial and institutional ambitions.
The report also outlines that there is a basis for an agreement over a two-year deal, plus another three years as a club ambassador with Barcelona anticipating an MLS swansong for the 34-year-old.
There reportedly remains some talks over Messi’s salary and taxation before the Argentine is prepared to put pen to paper and commit his future as Ronald Koeman’s side bid to regain their status as Spanish kings from Atletico Madrid.