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The Argentine superstar’s current deal lapsed at midnight in Spain on Tuesday, which was 11pm BST.
Messi’s contract was reportedly worth an eye-watering £476million over four years, which works out at around £119m per season.
The signing-on fee was £99m alone, with a further £67m due as a loyalty bonus, according to reports in Spain.
Barcelona’s financial situation is said to be in a poor state, with the coronavirus pandemic hitting revenues hard.
Negotiations over an extension are reportedly ongoing, but as yet no official confirmation has been made.
As it stands, for the first time since 2000, Messi is no longer under contract with Barcelona.
The 34-year-old made clear his desire to leave the club last summer, only to be convinced to stay for at least another year.
He kept up his stunning form with 30 goals in 35 La Liga appearances to win the Pichichi for an eighth time.