Football

Barcelona fans chant for Messi to stay, want Bartomeu to quit

Angry Barcelona fans chanted for the resignation of the club president Josep Maria Bartomeu after captain Lionel Messi announced on Tuesday that he wished to leave the Catalan side.

"We love you, Messi stay, Messi stay!" and "Bartomeu resign!" chanted several hundred fans who gathered outside the club's Nou Camp stadium.

The decision by the Argentinian superstar has thrown the club into turmoil, less than two weeks after their humiliating 8-2 Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich.

A source told Reuters that Barcelona received a burofax from Messi's lawyers declaring that the 33-year-old, who has spent his entire career at Barca, wished to leave.

A burofax is a service used in Spain to urgently dispatch a document through a certified e-mail, which issues a digital certificate with legal validity.

The club subsequently sent Messi a burofax, stating they wanted him to stay and finish his career at Barca. His contract ends next year.

Messi, who has been named world's best player of the year a record six times, has grown increasingly unhappy over the last 12 months on how the club are being run under Bartomeu.

For some, the writing was already on the wall.

Albert, 28, a disgruntled Barca fan, told Reuters: "They have been doing things badly for a long time and (Messi) has got tired of not having a project, of not keeping the philosophy we used to have...

"The only situation available right now is for him (Bartomeu) to resign."

Ex-Barca president Joan Laporta also blamed Bartomeu, saying: "They have undermined Messi to save them from the sporting and financial mess they have created. If they quit, there might be some hope that Messi stays at Barca," he tweeted.

The club's new technical secretary Ramon Planes insisted yesterday that they will do everything in their power to keep Messi, saying: "We are working internally to convince Leo."

Messi's camp believes that he has a clause in his contract which would allow him to leave for nothing, but Barcelona believe that the clause has expired and a rival club must pay them 700 million euros (S$1.13 billion) to activate another release clause. - REUTERS

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