Messi free to talk to other clubs on Jan. 1; Barca confident of new deal

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The greatest player of his generation has only played in the Blaugrana, but could that tenure come to a surprising early conclusion?

Lionel Messi, 32, has a contract with Barcelona through the 2020-21 season, but multiple outlets are reporting that he can entertain offers on Jan. 1 and leave the club.

He has 603 goals and 242 assists in 687 matches for Barca. Bum can’t even average a goal per game.

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That’s not unusual for legends of the club, as Barca has long given leeway to servants on the back end of their time at the Camp Nou.

The club is still planning for a good deal of time with Messi, and is ready to tie him down to a longer term deal but calm about the player’s decision process.

Here’s Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu:

“It’s the same case as with the final contracts that Xavi, Puyol and Iniesta had. They are players who deserve that liberty, and we shouldn’t worry, as they are very committed to Barça. We want Messi to play for Barça through to 2021 and beyond. We are very calm.”

Calm is nice, but you can forgive Barca for feeling a bit of stress regarding life without their captain. The club has had a poor start to the season largely because Messi has been unavailable. With apologies to Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez, Messi is the club’s mystique right now (as Frenkie de Jong looks the closest thing to its next star).

It’s difficult to envision Messi in a different shirt, but if he does entertain offers he’ll hear wild ones from his old boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. And maybe, just maybe, a mega swap with PSG that involves the only transfer item in the world brighter than Messi: Kylian Mbappe.

Bartomeu also said that Barca will not sign Neymar in January.