Lionel Messi [Photo/Agencies]
Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona looked no closer to being resolved after the first meeting between the player's father and the club on Wednesday ended without an agreement, according to a source.
The source told Associated Press that club president Josep Bartomeu met for more than 90 minutes with Jorge Messi to discuss the superstar's request to leave, but that neither side made any concessions.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the private meeting.
Lionel Messi last week told Barcelona he wanted to leave the club and invoked a contract clause that allowed him to depart for free at the end of the season. But Barcelona claimed the clause expired in June and said he must see out his contract until June 2021, unless the buyout clause of 700 million euros ($837 million) is paid.
Also in the meeting were Barcelona official Javier Bordas and Messi's brother, Rodrigo. A lawyer for the Messi family was also present. In what was described as a cordial meeting, all sides made their positions clear－Jorge Messi said the player wants to leave and Barcelona said it will not accept his transfer request.
No other meeting was immediately scheduled. Barcelona has said it still hopes Messi will change his mind about leaving and has offered him a two-year contract extension.
The player's representatives claim the clause allowing him to leave should still be valid because the season was pushed back by the coronavirus pandemic. Barcelona reiterated that they will hold the player to his contract.
Jorge Messi, who is also Messi's agent, was tight-lipped when he arrived in Spain from Argentina earlier on Wednesday. "I don't know anything," he said at the airport.
Spanish TV station Cuatro later reported that Jorge Messi said it would be "difficult" for his son to stay with Barcelona, but that "there is nothing yet" in terms of a possible move to Manchester City, which is the favorite to sign the player.
Messi did not attend Barca's COVID-19 testing on Sunday and subsequent start of preseason training on Monday. The 33-year-old, who has played for the Spanish team for almost 20 years, informed the club last week he wants to leave.