Lionel Messi: Social media reaction to Barcelona legend's transfer request

Barcelona's Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi made his debut for Barcelona in 2004

Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona?

For so long, the idea seemed unthinkable. But on Tuesday he told the club he wants out.

Sixteen years on from his debut, the 33-year-old is eyeing the exit door.

As ever, the reaction on social media was instant.

Former Barca defender Carles Puyol offered his backing to his former team-mate, writing on Twitter:external-link "Respect and admiration, Leo. All my support, friend."

Lionel Messi and Carlos Puyol
Messi played with Puyol until the former captain retired in 2014

And Barca forward Luis Suarez responded with a clapping emoji:

The president of Catalunya was already saying his goodbyesexternal-link - thanking Messi for "all this time of happiness and extraordinary football".

So what next? Could Messi - a four-time Champions League winner - move to the Premier League?

Former England striker Peter Crouch would love to see it - but would be frustrated if no-one else can:

Ex-England captain Rio Ferdinand, meanwhile, suggested Chelsea might move for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner:

At one point, #MessitoUnited was trending:

And while many fans were craving a link-up between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus, another Italian club made a cheeky move:

Former Sampdoria forward Roberto Mancini, now Italy manager, backed that move, saying: "I would gladly give it for #Messi."

But a move to a top European club would be too predictable, surely?

What Messi really needs is a new challenge, a whole new environment, right?

League One Burton almost let the cat out of the bag...

No - we're not buying it.

But how about League Two?

Or maybe it's time for a change of sport:

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC