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Gary Lineker has lashed out at his former club and their treatment of Lionel Messi.
The Match of the Day presenter played for the Catalan giants between 1986 and 1989, scoring 52 goals across 137 appearances and lifting both the Copa del Rey and European Cup Winners' Cup.
The 59-year-old has since offered his thoughts surrounding the future of Messi, who has been forced to see out the final year of his contract after asking club President Josep Maria Bartomeu if he could leave this summer.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is said to have waited too long to use a clause in his contract to walk away for free, meaning his €700 buy-out clause would have to be matched by a potential suitor.
“Just caught up with the extraordinary Messi interview,” Lineker wrote on Twitter.
“After all he’s done for the club, over almost 2 decades, it’s such a shame that Barcelona wriggled out and didn’t grant him his wishes.
“An amicable and satisfying finale of the Messi/Barca era is now difficult to envisage.”
Messi, 33, had been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City before he made the decision to back down, and he will now link up with the playing squad of new boss Ronald Koeman over the coming weeks.
"I thought and we were sure that I'd be a free agent," Messi told Goal.
"The president always told me that I could decide to stay or go at the end of the season and they're now clinging to the fact that I hadn't said anything by June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 the La Liga season was still ongoing and we were in the midst of this virus and this illness that altered the whole fixture calendar.
"And that's the reason why I'm staying on at the club.
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“I’m now staying because the president told me that the only way I could leave was by paying the €700m release clause, which is impossible."
"I'd never take Barca to trial because it's the club I love and that's given me everything since I joined," added Messi.
"It's the club of my life, I'm settled here, Barca have given me everything and I've given them everything. The idea of taking Barca to trial never crossed my mind."
- Gary Lineker
- Premier League
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- Barcelona FC
- Manchester City FC
- Lionel Messi
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