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01-Sep-2020, 06:43 pm

Valdano tells Barcelona to accept Messi is leaving & warns situation is becoming 'toxic'

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi is already mentally out of the door at Barcelona and is sure to continue his career elsewhere, believes Jorge Valdano.

The Argentina international believes a clause in his contract allowinghim to leave on a free transfer has been activated, though the club and La Liga are of the opinionhis €700 million(£624m/$823m) release clause remains the only valid way to terminate his deal, which runs until next June.

Manchester City are thought to be leading the race to sign Messi , with Paris Saint-Germain and Inter also credited with significant interest.

Former Real Madridforward, head coach anddirector general Valdano, who began his playing career at Messi's boyhood club Newell's Old Boys and won the 1986 World Cup with Argentina, is confident the 33-year-old's future lies away from CampNou.

He thinks Barcelona have to accept that reality sooner rather than later, or risk an ever more acrimonious parting of the ways further down the line.

"Either he goes to another club or to his home, but he has already left Barcelona. I am totally convinced. I have no doubt," he said on Onda Cero show El Transistor.

"The sooner Barcelona realise they are going to lose the best player in their history, the sooner they can focus on rebuilding."

It has been suggested Messi could perform a U-turn on his decision to leave Barca, as he did afterannouncing his international retirement in the wake ofArgentina losingthe Copa America Centenario final to Chile in 2016.

"They are completely different situations because there is no contract or anything similar when Leo left the Albiceleste and returned," Valdano added.

"There are no personal problems. I don't know how far this period is going to go, which is toxic for the club, player and La Liga.

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