Lionel Messi can leave Barcelona on a free transfer at the end of the season as part of his contract clause.
That is according to El Pais, who claim the Nou Camp legend has an agreement in his Barca deal that allows him to depart on June 30, at the end of each campaign.
Messi has extended his contract eight times since 2005 and it is understood in his last extension, in 2017, a clause was included which allows him to leave at the end of any season.
However, it is thought the five-time Ballon d’Or winner can only walk out of Barca to join a team not in Europe.
The 32-year-old’s current deal runs out in 2021, and Messi has previously expressed interest in returning to Argentina with childhood club Newell’s Old Boys.
He told Argentina television station El Trece that he does not ever expect to play for a rival club in Europe should he leave Barcelona but would be open to a return to his homeland.
“I’m increasingly sure that in Europe, Barcelona will be my only club,” he said.
“I always said I wanted to play in Argentine football one day, I don’t know if it will happen but I have it in my mind. It would be at Newell’s, nowhere else. I would like to do that for at least six months, but you never know what will happen.”
However, the Barcelona captain has more recently suggested he will end his career at the Nou Camp, the club he ha s played his whole professional career at.
“I’m happy to continue with the club, which is my home,” he said. “My dream was to finish my career at Barca and we are moving down that path.”
But yet to play this season, the Argentine’s absence is being felt to an extent rarely seen before at the Camp Nou.
Barca icons Carles Puyol, Xavi and Andres Iniesta were all thought to have had similar agreements in their final years at Barca, allowing them to leave for free.
Xavi left the Nou Camp in Qatar in 2014 to join Al Sadd and retired in May.
Midfield partner Iniesta departed La Liga last year joining Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe.
This article was originally published by The Sun and reproduced with permission.