Lionel Messi leads free agent list including Ramos, Boating & Luiz as Barca negotiate deal

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Lionel Messi is officially a free agent.

Messi becomes a free agent

It sounds utterly bizarre to say out loud, but arguably the greatest footballer in history is technically no longer a Barcelona player for the first time since he departed Newell's Old Boys in 2000.

BBC Sport confirmed that Messi's contract expired as June switched to July on Wednesday night, which - strictly speaking - means that the Argentine icon could be snapped up on a free transfer.

The news comes one year after Messi openly admitted that he wanted to leave Barcelona with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City linked to a potentially earth-shattering move.

Manchester United SIGN Jadon Sancho (Football Terrace)

Barcelona confident of a renewal

However, Barca have reportedly been in talks with their skipper about extending his stay at Camp Nou, although a renewal has evidently not been agreed in time for his current deal's expiration.

The general feeling remains a positive one, though, with Fabrizio Romano reporting that the Blaugrana are still feeling confident about keeping the six-time Ballon d'Or winner on the books.

Last weekend, Romano penned on his official Twitter account: "Barça board and Messi’s camp feel now ‘confident’ to officially announce the agreement until June 2023 next week."

Messi isn't alone

Marry that to some upbeat comments from new Barcelona president Joan Laporta and it's hardly time to raise the alarm that Messi might genuinely be leaving Camp Nou on a permanent basis. 

However, that doesn't make it any less surprising that the events of the last year have technically culminated in Messi being without a club - and he's not alone in holding that distinction this summer.

In the wake of so many players' contracts expiring on June 30, Spanish newspaper Marca decided to highlight some of the other top-level stars who have become free agents alongside Messi.

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Read More - Summer transfer window: Who will move this summer?

Top-level players who became free agents

None of the names can quite hold a candle to someone of Messi's magnitude, but with Real Madrid icon Sergio Ramos also making the list, there's no shortage of world-class ability nonetheless.

As such, whip out your chequebook and get football agents on speed dial because here are some of the footballers who could (maybe, probably not...) be coming to your club on a free this summer:

Sergio Ramos

Jerome Boateng

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Juan Mata

David Luiz

Hatem Ben Arfa

Elseid Hysaj

Kevin Gameiro

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Shkodran Mustafi

Stevan Jovetić

Joshua King

Gianluigi Donnarumma (close to PSG move)

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A chaotic year for free agents

It really has been a bizarre year for footballers emerging from their contracts and Barcelona have resided at the eye of the storm by way of dipping their toe into the market for free agents.

With Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero all coming through the door and Georginio Wijnaldum only turning them down for the PSG, Barca really have made the most of the situation.

And everything points towards the biggest free agent of all coming to Barcelona this summer in the form of a rather familiar face with a record number of goals and appearances for the club.

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Make no mistake that the greatest signing that Barcelona could possibly make in 2021 is Messi himself. It doesn't get much better than that.

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