Messi to leave Barcelona after contract talks collapse

Negotiations to renew Lionel Messi‘s contract with Barcelona hit a stumbling block on Thursday, but the club are still hopeful of tying him down to a new deal, multiple sources told ESPN.

Messi, 34, has been a free agent since his previous terms expired on June 30, but ESPN reported last month that a loose agreement over a five-year extension had been reached.

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Jorge Messi, the player’s father and agent, arrived in Barcelona on Thursday to finalise the agreement. However, sources told ESPN that talks have been left up in the air after several problems surfaced.

Messi’s camp were unavailable for comment when approached by ESPN, but sources close to the negotiations confirmed the forward is not completely satisfied with the squad which has been put together this summer.

In addition, there are also some financial elements of the deal that need fixing, with the two parties in disagreement over the breakdown of the commission payments involved in the deal.

Sources close to the Catalan club confirmed the setback but said they were hopeful of turning the situation around and finalising the agreement.

Messi returned to Barcelona on Wednesday after spending the last three weeks in Miami, the Dominican Republic and Ibiza with friends and family following Copa America success with Argentina.

Barca president Joan Laporta has always expressed his confidence that Messi would extend his 21-year relationship with the club.

Messi wanted to leave last summer after falling out with the previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu, but the return of Laporta, who was in charge when Messi first broke into the first team, helped chang his mind.

Laporta has always said that the sporting project and success on the pitch was more important to Messi than the financial package on offer as he moves into the final years of his career.

Sources told to ESPN last month that Messi was even willing to take a significant pay cut to remain at Camp Nou before talks ran into an obstacle on Thursday.

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