Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club after nearly two decades with the Spanish giants.
The club confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Argentine sent a document expressing his desire to leave.
The announcement comes 11 days after Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, one of the worst defeats in the players career and in the club’s history.
The defeat capped a difficult season for Barcelona – the first without a trophy since 2007-08 – and ignited one of its worst crises ever.
Messi has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards during his time at Barcelona as the top player in the world, and has helped the club win 10 Spanish league titles and four Champions Leagues.
Last week Barcelona’s new head coach Ronald Koeman said he wants Messi to remain at the club.
Koeman said: “I don’t know if I have to convince Messi (to stay). Of course he is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world in your team – you don’t want him playing against you.
“For me as a coach, I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. If he is at the ability and the level he has always shown, I would be more than happy for him to stay.
“He’s still got a contract and he is still a Barcelona player. There are some older players in the team and we need to make some decisions but in Messi’s case I hope that he stays with us.”