Lionel Messi, most likely the greatest footballer to ever lace up a pair of boots, has officially signalled his intent to leave FC Barcelona after nearly 20 years with the Catalan giants.

To add to the unthinkable, the superstar reportedly wants leave on a free transfer, effective immediately, leaving the club with no financial remuneration for their most important player.

Bloody hell.

The New York Times reports the Argentinian forward, 33, filed official documentation with the club on Tuesday about his intentions to get the hell out of there.

His decision comes after back-to-back-to-back embarrassments for Barcelona in the Champions League, Europe’s most prestigious club competition.

It’s unlikely to be an easy move, though.

Team Messi is reportedly pointing to a clause in his contract which states he can leave on a free as long as he informs the club before the end of the season.

The coronavirus pandemic forced a delay in the season, meaning the 2019-2020 competition just wrapped up, with Bayern Munich lifting the Champions League trophy on Sunday.

However, Barcelona officials are reportedly deadset on the idea that his get-out clause only works before May, when the season was supposed to wrap up.

A huge amount is at stake here. If Messi leaves on a free, Barcelona not only miss out on the services of a six-time international player of the year, they could lose up to €700,000,000 ($AU1,150,000,000 – yes, that’s $1.15 billion), the sum another club would have to pay to activate his buy-out clause.

Still don’t think it’s serious? Here’s club legend Carles Puyol pledging his support to Messi, and current teammate, Luis Suarez, responding with applause emojis.

Yikes.

All this leaves us with is chaos, speculation, the realisation that an era of footballing magic may soon come to an ignominious end… and the idea of Messi in the A-League.

He can do it at the Camp Nou, but could Messi showcase his genius at Hindmarsh Stadium?

Image: Nurphoto / Getty Images