FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi is now free to negotiate with other clubs who might be interested in his services next season. His current contract expires on June 30, 2021, and Paris Saint-Germain sporting director has admitted that the Argentine is on their "shortlist."

"Great players like Messi will always be on PSG's shortlist, but now isn't the time to talk or dream about this," said Leonardo, in a recent interview with France Football.

There are still several months before the summer transfer window, and many things can happen until then. Despite being free to negotiate with other clubs, the buzz around any particular suitor has not been as loud as it was last summer, when Messi declared his intention to leave Camp Nou. Unfortunately for him, as much as he wanted to leave, he was forced to stick out the final year of his contract thanks to a massive €700 million release clause that he wasn't able to wiggle out of.

PSG is eager to make some changes within the squad after hiring new head coach Mauricio Pochettino. The club will be looking to make changes to the lineup for next season, and a Messi-Neymar Jr. reunion is one of the prospects. However, Pochettino himself has not confirmed that this is in his plans.

There is also the question of whether PSG is even willing or able to spend as much as what Messi demands. "With Financial Fair Play, the pandemic and how much PSG have been affected like all other big clubs, I don't know how, just at the payroll level, you could have Neymar, let's say on 30 million euros a year, Messi on 60 million euros a year and Mbappe potentially with a new contract on the same amount as Neymar," said French Journalist Julien Laurens on the Sky Sports podcast Transfer Talk.

For its part, FC Barcelona has not made any solid move towards a renewal. The fact is, they can't negotiate a new contract with Messi until after the presidential elections. This has been moved from January to March 7th, and many of the candidates have not exactly expressed a burning desire to retain the Argentine star.

Lionel Messi
Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi was sent off as Athletic Bilbao won the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday. AFP / CRISTINA QUICLER