- Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona could land president Josep Maria Bartomeu in prison, reports claim
- The Argentine superstar recent handed a transfer request to the club after nearly 20 years at the Camp Nou
- Messi is Barcelona's top goalscorer and the highest goalscorer in the Spanish topflight division
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Lionel Messi's departure from Barcelona could lead the outgoing Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu to jail or a heavy fine, according to reports from Spain.
The club are ready not to let go of the 33-year-old unless his £632million release clause is met and this is against the captain's wish who wants to leave as a free agent.
Messi has threatened a legal action against the club and Bartomeu is standing in the way of the Argentine star because who could face a jail term, according to Spanish journalist Guillem Balagu.
Barca will elect a new president in March 2021 after Bartomeu refused to quit following their Champions League humiliation from Bayern Munich.
And if a new leader emerges without Messi being at the Camp Nou, the soon-to-leave president will be given a hefty fine or serve a prison sentence.
"Finally if he badly sells Messi next president or season ticket holder could accuse him of mishandling assets.That could mean a huge payment from his own pocket or even prison!So he needs to fight Messi’s departure till the end," Balagu wrote on his Twitter handle.
Messi's contract allows him to leave the club for free at the end of the season but Barca claim he did not sign in June, and some people believe the player still have the right to become a free agent.
However, La Liga released a statement in favour of La Blaugrana stating that any club that wants to sign Messi should activate his release clause.
Manchester City are the club leading in the race to sign Messi and if they pay the massive amount in his release clause, Bartomeu will leave his seat unpunished.
Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell spent almost two years in prison after being accused of misappropriation of funds from the signing of Neymar from Santos in 2013.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had earlier reported that Lionel Messi let the cat out of the bag about leaving Barcelona this week but club officials claim they saw it coming since July.
The club captain made his intentions official with a burofax message that shocked the world of football.
And Barca chiefs have revealed that they knew their star player would leave the Camp Nou after the Argentine told them informally about his desires.
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