Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has called off negotiations over renewing his contract with the club and is ready to leave the Catalans when his deal expires in 2021, according to reports from Spanish radio network Cadena Ser.
Sources confirmed to ESPN’s Moises Llorens that Messi is said to be angry with Barcelona’s front office about leaked media reports that appeared to make him seem responsible for events at the club, such as the January sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde, and that he is frustrated about the squad’s lack of quality.
Messi and his father, Jorge, had begun discussing renewing Messi’s last deal with the club, which was signed in 2017, but they no longer wish to advance the negotiation, according to the Cadena Ser report.
The Argentine’s representatives and Barcelona did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Messi, who turned 33 last month, scored his 700th career goal on Tuesday against Atletico Madrid, but the milestone strike ended in disappointment as Barca drew the game 2-2 in the latest blow to their bid to retain the Spanish title.
Barca trail Real Madrid by four points in the title race with five games remaining after Real beat Getafe 1-0 on Thursday.
Previously known for his shy personality off the pitch, Messi has become more vocal in his criticism of the club in the past year.
In January, he hit out at sporting director Eric Abidal, whom Messi said had implied players had a hand in Valverde being sacked.
In a February interview with newspaper Mundo Deportivo, Messi declared the team wasn’t good enough to win this season’s Champions League.
Then in April Messi criticised Barca’s board of directors for implying players were not willing to accept a pay cut to help the team’s financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.