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Photo: Manu Fernandez/Pool via Getty Images

Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona that he intends to leave the club immediately, an earth-shattering development that could turn ugly.

Why it matters: Arguably the greatest player in soccer history wants to leave the only club he's ever known — a club he helped transform into one of the most popular and valuable franchises in the world.

The backdrop: The announcement comes just over a week after Barcelona's humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals — a defeat that capped the club's first season without a title since 2007-08.

  • Barcelona has been dealing with off-field dysfunction all year, and the club descended into yet another bout of internal turmoil this past week.
  • Manager Quique Setién and sporting director Eric Abidal both departed, and Ronald Koeman, a former player for the club, was appointed as coach.

Between the lines: Messi intends to activate a clause in his contract that would not allow Barcelona to receive a cent in compensation — evidence of how contentious things have gotten between the two sides.

The big picture: Messi joined Barcelona at 13, when an emissary from Barcelona, sent to watch him play in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina, drew up a contract on a napkin.

  • Over 16 seasons with the senior club, Messi won a record six Ballon d'Or awards and recorded more goals and assists than any player in La Liga history.
  • Barcelona's 34 titles in Messi's 16 seasons are almost double the titles the club won in the 16 seasons prior to his arrival (18).

What to watch: "Manchester City — managed by Messi's old mentor, Pep Guardiola — and PSG, home to his close friend Neymar, would be the likeliest [landing spots], ahead of Chelsea, Manchester United and even Real Madrid," the New York Times notes.

  • "Inter Milan, though less successful in recent years, has maintained a yearslong dialogue with Messi's family, and has long attempted to position itself as his first alternative."

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Back in focus: The meme stock trade.

By the numbers: GameStop finished up 19%, after a wild day that saw shares spike as much as 80%.

AT&T spins off U.S. video business via deal with TPG

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

AT&T is spinning off three of its video services, including its satellite TV brand DirecTV, to create a new standalone video company called New DIRECTV.

Details: The company will be jointly owned by AT&T and private-equity giant TPG. AT&T will retain a 70% stake and TPG will own 30% of the firm.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Ex-USA Gymnastics coach dies by suicide after being charged with human trafficking

John Geddert. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The body of John Geddert was found on Thursday, just hours after the former USA Gymnastics coach was charged with 24 counts of criminal misconduct, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

What they're saying: “My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life. This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved," Nessel said in a statement.