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Messi gets early mark from Barca

Lionel Messi has been given permission to miss Barcelona’s final match of the La Liga season, meaning he may have played his last game for Catalan side.

The club confirmed on Friday their captain had been cleared to miss Saturday’s match against Eibar and start his holidays early before he begins preparations for the Copa America with Argentina.

Midfielder Pedri will also skip the game at Ipurua after a hectic season, with Barca unable to finish any higher than third in the table.

Messi has played in all but two of Barca’s league games in 2020-21, making 47 appearances in all competitions.

He leads the goalscoring charts in La Liga with 30, seven clear of nearest rival Gerard Moreno, meaning he is almost certain to win the Pichichi trophy for the eighth time in his career.

It is unclear whether Messi will play again for the Catalans, having this season broken the club’s appearance record and the world record for most goals at one club.

The 33-year-old’s future at Camp Nou remains in doubt, with his contract expiring in June and no agreement yet reached on an extension.

Messi attempted to leave last year, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain said to be interested, but he was thwarted by former president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The return of Joan Laporta, who has a good relationship with Messi, as Bartomeu’s successor this year could play a part in the player’s decision over his future.

Laporta is reported to have sanctioned a 10-year contract offer for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, while Barca have also been tipped to sign Messi’s Argentina team-mate Sergio Aguero on a free transfer after he leaves Manchester City.

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