Messi dazzles for Argentina ONE DAY before Barca contract expires
Lionel Messi broke the record for the most appearances made for Argentina this week when he took to the field for the 148th time for the Albiceleste in a Copa America fixture against Bolivia.
The Barcelona star celebrated the milestone by putting in a truly fantastic performance, scoring two goals and setting up another.
Messi's first came from the penalty spot, while the second was a delightful lob over the goalkeeper following the assist from his new Barcelona team-mate Sergio Aguero.
His best moment of the match was arguably his assist, though, as he beautifully lofted the ball over the Bolivia defence in a tight area for Papu Gomez to smash home.
The appearance meant Messi overtook Javier Mascherano's 147 appearances to become Argentina's record cap holder.
The man of the match, he received a 9.4 FootballCritic rating for his performance.
What his performance also did, was further highlight to Barcelona just the kind of player they need to keep.
Messi dazzled for Argentina despite the fact that in ONE DAY he will effectively become a free agent.
His contract with Barcelona runs out on 30 June, with the Blaugrana scrambling to negotiate an extension as soon as possible.
Even if Messi does become a free agent it does not mean Barcelona can't subsequently sign him again, but the situation of him officially not being a player for the club anymore is a situation they'd like to avoid.
Could Messi leave Barcelona?
Following an embarrassing 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League in 2019/20, Messi formally asked to leave Barcelona for the first time in his career, having become disillusioned with life on and off the pitch.
His relationship with the club soured further when now-exiled president Josep Maria Bartomeu denied his request.
Messi eventually agreed to stay another year but with no guarantee he would extend his deal beyond 2021.
🙌 𝙉𝙀𝙒 𝙍𝙀𝘾𝙊𝙍𝘿— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) June 28, 2021
🇦🇷 Leo #Messi has now become the player with the most appearances with the national team of @Argentina (148).
A TRUE LEGEND, LEO! CONGRATULATIONS! #CopaAmerica2021 pic.twitter.com/j85dY6lVxT
The likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City were suddenly put on high alert as they worked on a potential deal to bring the best player in history to Ligue 1 or the Premier League.
However, even though he will become a free agent tomorrow if no deal can be struck, things have quietened down on the exit front over the past couple of months.
Barcelona may have eventually finished third in La Liga but there were some signs of improvement under Ronald Koeman, while the club have exciting youngsters like Pedri, Ilaix Moriba, Oscar Mingueza and Ronald Araujo in their ranks.
The exit of Bartomeu for Joan Laporta, whom Messi gets on with, cannot be underestimated also.
Crucially, too, the Blaugrana have also signed Messi's friend and Argentina team-mate Aguero on a free transfer from Man City which could go far in convincing him to stay.
With the acquisitions of Eric Garcia, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay, too, the entire squad is looking in much better shape.
However, any headline on Wednesday confirming Messi's departure, even a temporary one, will be cause for concern.