Barcelona will only sell Messi for more than €222 million
Barça's directors know they cannot hold onto Messi if he's truly decided to leave, but they are determined to make it a costly move for any club.
According to Catalan broadcaster RAC, Barcelona have accepted that it will be impossible to hold on to Messi, after he indicated his desire to leave the club. However the Barça board are not willing to let him go for free and are determined to sell him for the highest ever transfer fee - that is, more than the €222 million euros PSG paid Barcelona for Neymar.
Barcelona believe Messi's contract has extended
Legally, Barcelona feel they are in the driving seat. Messi has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free provided he told the club of his decision 20 days prior to 10 June 2020 (seen as 'the end of the season'). Messi's legal advisers are arguing that the 'end of the season' this year was the final of the Champions League between Bayern and PSG in Lisbon, meaning Messi had an extended period to indicate he wanted to leave. However, he did not do so 20 days prior to that match, but on or around the 20 August (with the final taking place on 23 August).
While Barcelona are confident of prevailing on the legal front and that Messi would not be able to leave for free, they understand that if Messi wants to leave he will. Hence their reply to Messi saying only that they wished for him to continue and finish his sporting career at Barcelona, rather than threatening him with legal action. The club's plan is to let Messi go, but only if a buyer stumps up more than €222 million - to ensure Messi leaves as the most expensive player on the planet.