Messi could leave Barca for free

Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona without a transfer fee if Catalonia ceded from Spain and the club did not compete in any of Europe's top four leagues, El Mundo said on Friday, citing a clause in his new contract.

Barca's all-time top scorer signed the contract in November, seven months before his old deal expired. It runs until June 2021 and contains a 700 million euro ($843 million) buy-out clause.

But according to the Spanish daily, it would also allow the five-times world player of the year to leave the club where he has spent his entire career for free if Catalonia's independence push resulted in Barca exiting Spain's top flight and not joining either the Premier League, the Bundesliga or Serie A.

A Barca spokesman declined to comment directly on the report but added: "In the interests of confidentiality the club never comment on contracts signed with players and never will."

Messi's management team could not immediately be reached for comment.

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