Luis Suarez and Carles Puyol have given their backing to Lionel Messi after the Argentine told Barcelona he wants to leave the club.
Following the shock development that the 33-year-old Barca skipper wants out, club legend Puyol and strike partner Suarez have given Messi their full support on social media.
This comes after ex-Liverpool striker Suarez discovered on Monday that he was not in new manager Ronald Koeman’s plans next season, amid a simply remarkable day or so in Catalonia.
Puyol, who was captain at the club when Messi first developed into the first-team, tweeted: ‘Respect and admiration Leo. All my support, amigo.’
Puyol’s tweet was then applauded in a reply from Suarez, who himself appears to be on the way out after a tumultuous 24 hours at the Catalan club.
Messi, 33, has only ever played for Barcelona and his shock decision to leave has put Europe’s top clubs on red alert, not least Manchester City amid rumours of a potential reunion with manager Pep Guardiola.
Manchester United, PSG, Inter Milan and Juventus are also showing interest.
In addition, Messi believes a clause in his contract allowing him to walk away for nothing is still valid because the season ended in August and not May because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Barcelona say the deadline for Messi to leave for free passed in June and will contest the player’s argument that the deadline changed when the season was rearranged after lockdown.
Messi is supposed to report for the new season on Sunday but has no intention of meeting up with new coach Ronald Koeman, or attending Monday’s subsequent first training session.
The former Barcelona president Joan Laporta accused current man in charge Josep Maria Bartomeu of wanting to sell Messi in a tweet published on Tuesday.
‘I suspect they want to sell Messi,’ he said. ‘Poor Barça in the hands of these incompetents.’
Messi earns Є50m (£44m) net a season and that costs the club close to Є100m (£88m) gross a year with tax payments. The pandemic has left the club fearing a Є300 (3265m) hole in revenue for next season.
Messi’s future has been up in the air following Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that Suarez’s Barcelona contract, which still has a year left to run, will be terminated.
According to Barcelona news outlet SPORT, Suarez has been left furious after Koeman bluntly informed the striker of his desire to sell him in a conversation which lasted sixty seconds.
The report also says Suarez is angry with Barca president Bartomeu, who has not even talked to him about his role at the club.
Last week, the striker told El Pais: ‘There is talk of some names that the president gave, of changes that can be made, but nobody told me that they want to do without me.
‘If this is the desire of the club, it would be good if the person in charge who chooses speaks directly to me. Better so than filter if I am one of those who want them to leave. It remains to be seen.
‘I also want the best for the club and my idea today is to continue, but if the club decides that I am expendable, I have no problem talking to those who decide.’