The unlikely prospect of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona at the end of next season looks to have edged a step closer.
Messi is reportedly unhappy at the Nou Camp and is said to have ended discussions over a new contract, with his current deal set to expire next summer.
Central to his thoughts is believed to be a frustration over a lack of quality in the current squad, as well as him being seemingly made a scapegoat for issues at the club.
Spanish radio network Cadena Ser reported Messi’s father, Jorge, had broke off contract negotiations as a result, with wider reports suggesting the forward would only reconsider if his former teammate Xavi is appointed as Barca’s new manager.
Such an event now seems to be even further out of reach though, after Xavi signed a fresh contract extension with current club Al-Sadd which will see him continue in the dugout into next season.
“I am happy to continue with Al-Sadd, and the team’s goal will always be to compete for all titles,” Xavi said.
“(My) complete focus in this current period is to fully equip the players for the upcoming domestic and Asian competitions.”
Xavi held talks with Barcelona after Ernesto Valverde’s sacking, and admitted it was his “dream” to manage the club.
But his commitment to Al-Sadd until the end of the 2020/21 campaign could have a knock-on effect for Messi’s future.
The Argentine is said to be ready to turn his back on Barcelona when his contract expires, which could lead to a bidding war this summer.
It would be a bold move for Barcelona to cash-in on their star man, but Messi’s anger at the board over leaked media reports may force their hand.
He feels the reports have put him at blame for problems behind the scenes, such as Valverde’s sacking.
Back in February, Messi was also critical of the lack of top stars in Barcelona’s squad which has contributed to their slight decline.
Since then he has also been at loggerheads with the board regarding reported discrepancies over a squad pay cut.
Barcelona now look set to miss out on the La Liga title this season too, with rivals Real Madrid holding a significant gap with four games remaining.