The Argentina legend – widely considered one of the best players in history – sent a fax to Barcelona on Tuesday informing them of his desire to exercise a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free.
Messi, 33, has scored a staggering 634 goals in 731 appearances for Barca, helping the Spanish club win ten La Liga titles and the Champions League four times.
Messi’s transfer request has rocked the football world and left Real Madrid’s players ‘stunned’ and ‘incredulous’, with the squad involved in frantic WhatsApp conversations following the revelation, according to ESPN.
It is claimed the players were still struggling to digest the news 24 hours on from the announcement, with Messi’s 20-year stay at the Nou Camp set to come to an end.
Messi has grown frustrated at Barcelona and his angst only increased after the club suffered an embarrassing 8-2 defeat to eventual Champions League winners Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Despite this, Real Madrid have still reportedly been ‘shocked’ at the manner and the timing of Messi’s transfer request, which could lead to a move to the Premier League.
Manchester City, managed by Messi’s former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, are believed to be leading the race to sign the Argentian forward.
On Thursday, Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney suggested Messi should move to Old Trafford and said he could win a seventh Ballon d’Or at his former club.
‘If he can come to the Premier League, whichever team it is, Manchester City or Manchester United, I’d take Messi at United,’ Rooney told talkSPORT.
‘The United States shouldn’t be in his mindset at all because he’s too good for that level. He is miles too good for that level.
‘He could come to the Premier League and be a Player of the Year. One million per cent.
‘If he surrounds himself with Kevin De Bruyne, with Bruno Fernandes, these types of players, he could win a seventh Ballon d’Or.’