Lionel Messi could yet leave Barcelona after the club's financial and strategy director Pancho Schroder conceded it was feasible that the five-time world footballer of the year's £625m [€700m] release clause could be activated.
The 30-year-old ended months of speculation last November by signing a three-year extension with the Catalan giants, keeping him at the Nou Camp until 2021.
Barcelona also confirmed via their official website that the contract included a €700m [£625m] buyout clause, meaning any side wishing to sign the Argentina international would have to match the fee to activate talks with the player.
Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain for €222m [£198m, BBC Sport] smashed the world transfer record last summer and despite the eye-watering value Barcelona have slapped on Messi the club are not ruling out it one day being matched.
"We set up a clause which we think is enough to have Messi retire at FC Barcelona," financial and strategy director Schroder said, according to Sky Sports.
"But having said that, we thought a year ago that the clause for Neymar was also good enough to retain the player, and that proved last summer not to be the case.
"Looking at the future, I think, is difficult, but I don't have a crystal ball and these days things are getting a little bit crazy."
Former Barca boss Pep Guardiola – the coach credited with inspiring Messi's emergence as one of the greatest players in football history – claimed back in August, when the forward's release clause stood at a modest €300m, that a club could activate his release clause.
As uncertainty grew over Messi's future at Barcelona – his father had initially agreed an extension on his behalf before Neymar's move to PSG saw the agreement cancelled – Manchester City were linked with a €100m move for the former Newell's Old Boys youngster [Marca].
Guardiola was then forced to deny the speculation, suggesting "that was never going to happen," according to The Independent in a press conference in December.
Despite having entered his 30s, Messi is enjoying a thoroughly fruitful campaign having scored 32 goals in all competition for a Barcelona side destined to be crowned La Liga champions for the third time in four years and due to play the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla.
Chelsea stand between the Blaugrana and a place in the Champions League quarter-finals, with Ernesto Valverde's side possessing an away goal following their 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge – given to them by Messi's first ever goal against the Blues – ahead of the second leg next week [14 March].