Lionel Messi could be forced by Barcelona to miss entire 2020/21 season to leave for free

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Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona is an incredibly surreal situation.

For as long as the name 'Lionel Messi' has been of any significance to football fans, he's been under the employment of Barcelona and many assumed that would be the case forever.

The idea of Messi wearing anything other than the red and blue stripes of the club - aside from an Argentina jersey, of course - just doesn't seem to make any sense.

Messi sticking to his guns

However, it's a reality that fans across the world are having to become accustomed to because it seems as though the situation at Camp Nou has passed the point of no return.

It's almost been a week since Messi submitted the now infamous fax that declared his intentions to leave the club and the lengths he's willing to go to have become clear ever since.

If there were any doubts about the seriousness with which Messi was treating the situation, those doubts were dispelled the moment he refused to attend training this week.

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The infamous Messi clause

But just because Messi is hellbent on kissing goodbye to Barcelona, that doesn't mean the club will pave the escape route for him and it feels as though we're on the brink of an all-out legal war.

The debate surrounds a clause that I'm sure you'll all be familiar with at this stage: Messi's ability to leave his contract one year earlier on a free transfer... but only before June 10, according to reports.

Nevertheless, it's touted that Messi's team are adamant that their client should be a free agent and the season being pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely the cause of this.

But Barcelona aren't backing down without a fight and according to a report from ESPN earlier this week, the club's stubbornness could have some shocking permutations for Messi himself.

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Messi could miss entire season

That's because ESPN have been told by sources that Barcelona believe the only way that Messi can legally leave the club for free would be if he committed to not playing football next season.

Uh huh, you read that right. Barca's interpretation of the now-infamous clause is that Messi would have to forego his wages for a season and could not sign for another club until next summer.

That is, of course, when his current Barcelona deal expires anyway, but the situation in Catalonia has escalated so much that Messi playing for the club again feels like an impossibility.

It's also reiterated that Barcelona are still offering a two-year contract extension to their star man, which is likely to be on that table when Josep Maria Bartomeu meets with Jorge Messi this week.

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GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

Ordinarily, I'd bat away the idea that Messi would give up playing football for an entire year and that he'd literally do anything and everything to avoid that scenario.

But the situation is such that I just can't imagine both Barcelona and Messi deciding to plough on for one more season through gritted teeth after all that's happened this summer.

It would be counterproductive for Messi to essentially be forced to play during the 2020/21 campaign against his wishes, regardless of whether it would help the team on the pitch or not. 

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Therefore, in a world where Barcelona do force Messi's team into a corner where he'd have to go a season without playing, perhaps the 33-year-old would genuinely have to bite his tongue and agree.

But I just can't see Messi's circle having gotten him into this situation if they thought that would be a genuine possibility, so don't get too emotional quite yet, I'm sure they'll do everything to avoid it.

Besides, as much as we're all excited by the prospect of Messi playing elsewhere, I'm not sure being robbed of a season of him playing would be worth the potential reward.

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