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Barcelona star Lionel Messi becomes a free agent

 

One of the world's greatest players is now officially a free agent.

Yes, 12 months on from his aborted attempted to leave Barcelona, Lionel Messi is now out of contract.

The Argentine superstar's deal expired at midnight and despite months of rumour and conjecture, he has failed to commit to an extension.

Talks over a new contract are believed to be ongoing, meaning Messi may well decide to stay at the Nou Camp.

But, for now, he is available for absolutely nothing.

Spanish football writer Guillem Balague said earlier this week that Barcelona had "raised the level of urgency" in contract talks, with the hopes of making an announcement of a new two-year deal before the start of July.

The club started negotiations in April and since then they have met or spoken to Messi's representatives at least 10 times.

"Barcelona are pushing for a quick solution but there are still things to negotiate and no news is expected on Thursday." said Balague.

"They want him to sign as soon as possible, but the timings will be dictated by the resolution of all the details that have not yet been agreed - such as tax issues, Messi's wages and fitting the new contract within La Liga's financial fair play rules - to keep the Argentine, the club will have to reduce their wage bill by around 200m euros (£172m).

"There is synergy between both parties and Messi has not listened to any other club yet."

The 34-year-old has been linked with moves to Paris St-Germain and Manchester City, where he would be reunited with his former boss at Barcelona Pep Guardiola, as well as America's Major League Soccer.

He is currently in Brazil playing for Argentina at the Copa America and became their most-capped player when he made his 148th international appearance against Bolivia on Tuesday, scoring twice and setting up another in a 4-1 win.

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