Lionel Messi is a free agent, sort of.
Messi has always been a Barcelona player during his professional career, but informed the team on Tuesday that he would like to leave. He reportedly asked the club to accept an opt-out clause in his contract that would allow him to leave on a "free transfer," which is the equivalent of being a free agent in American sports.
The catch is the opt-out clause was for the end of the 2019-20 season and expired in June, but the 2019-20 season didn't end on time after COVID-19 related postponements of games.
Lionel Messi has asked Barcelona to accept a clause in his contract that would allow him to move on a free this summer. The club are holding an emergency meeting to discuss the issue, reports @rac1 🚨 pic.twitter.com/dGI6DITayL— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 25, 2020
Cristiano Ronaldo similarly asked Real Madrid to leave the club and joined Juventus after completing a €100 million transfer, so a slightly different scenario as Real Madrid got some huge cash in return.
Barcelona will surely seek to find a way to get Messi where he wants to be without letting him walk for nothing.
As for where Messi goes, that remains to be seen. At some point in his future Major League Soccer and the United States could be on his radar but it's far too early in his career for that.
Manchester City has been a rumored suitor of Messi's and ESPN's Moises Llorens and Rodrigo Faez linked the club and star in a report on Monday. ESPN's report does say City is figuring out how to land Messi from Barcelona and working within the boundaries of Financial Fair Play.
Financial Fair Play is a system that regulates club's spending money by balancing out how much they spend on players and what they get in return for players. A violation of Financial Fair Play netted City a two-year ban from European competitions, but was overturned when City appealed.
City have been desparate to win a Champions League, which has alluded them in recent seasons.
Not only does City have deep pockets but it would reunite Messi with former manager Pep Guardiola. During his time as amanger of Bracelona, Guardiola and Messi won three La Liga titles, two Champions League Finals and the FIFA Club World Cup twice, amongst numerous other trophies.
They've also face incredible pressure in the Premier League title race with Liverpool challenging them for the title two seasons ago with 97 points, one point behind City and then running away with the title last season.