Barcelona chief Bartomeu ‘privately considers’ letting Lionel Messi leave
Barcelona chief Josep Maria Bartomeu has privately considered letting Lionel Messi go this summer.
The Argentine has never been closer than this moment to leaving his boyhood club, where he made his debut 16 years ago.
It comes after a disappointing season where Barca crumbled in La Liga and the Champions League.
They were leading Real Madrid in the league when they sacked Ernesto Valverde.
But a shoddy collapse saw their biggest rivals clinch the title ahead of them.
And Bayern Munich absolutely tore them apart in Europe, inflicting an 8-2 defeat upon them in what will go down as the most humiliating night in their history.
For Messi, that has proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back and he has reportedly demanded an exit this summer.
However, Barca chief Bartomeu insisted his star man would be going nowhere.
He is quoted as saying: “I have spoken with Ronald Koeman about Messi and he said he is his cornerstone.
“Messi will stay at Barcelona.”
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But according to BBC Sport, that was a facade – with the Nou Camp supremo privately admitting that he is considering granting Messi's wish.
However, actually completing such a task is far too large for him with the same report admitting he was not brave enough to pull off such a move.
Messi has been linked with a move to Inter Milan in the past while a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City holds a romantic value.
Ultimately, finding a team able to fork out £500,000-a-week for his wages would be the most demanding ask.
As well as Quique Setien, Eric Abidal was also sacked in the aftermath of Barca's defeat to Bayern Munich.
Gerard Pique said after the embarrassment: "It was a horrible performance and it leaves us with a terrible feeling.
“We have hit rock bottom.
"We feel embarrassed. You can’t compete as we have done tonight. This is very hard to take.
"The clubs need changes and I’m not talking about the coach or any one player. The club needs profound change.
“We have hit rock bottom. We need to reflect and do what is best for the club.
"I will be the first to offer to go if we need new blood."
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