Lionel Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, has landed in Barcelona ahead of crunch talks with the club over his son’s future.
Messi rocked Barcelona last month when his lawyers told the club he wanted to activate a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free before the 2020-21 season.
The club disputed the claim saying the clause expired on June 10, though LaLiga then sided with the club by releasing a statement saying his contract was still valid, meaning paying his €700million (£632m) release clause is the only way to trigger a transfer.
Jorge Messi, boarded a private plan in Rosario bound for Barcelona and a meeting with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
TV cameras pictured Jorge Messi landing in Spain on Wednesday morning, with the meeting reportedly scheduled for Thursday.
Messi did not attend Covid-19 testing on Sunday in the belief that his contract with the club ended earlier during the week. He was again absent for pre-season training on Monday as Ronald Koeman began life as the new head coach.
Sources understands that Manchester City is Messi’s preferred destination this summer, a belief shared by the Premier League club.
Messi’s £988,000-a-week wage is a major stumbling block to his departure, but Pep Guardiola and the world’s best player have reportedly already been in contact about a move this summer.
Messi also has a good relationship with City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano, who also previously worked at Barcelona.
Signing a 33-year-old on big wages would not fit with City’s usual transfer model, but chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said last week that exceptions could be made “because sometimes opportunities come up that fit with what the manager wants.”