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."

Go deeper

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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