It's hard to argue that this day has been coming, though the events of the past two weeks have taken a precarious situation and transformed it into a virtually irreconcilable one.
The 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich, coupled with the arrival of Ronald Koeman and swift appraisal of team-mate Luis Suarez, who was deemed surplus to requirements, forced Messi's hand.
And on 25 August 2020, what could be a momentous day in the history of Barcelona, he faxed a communication to the club informed them of his desire to be leave his contract on a free transfer.
Can Messi leave on a free?
In a word no. The clause in his current contract, which expires in the summer of 2021, did allow him to leave the club for free, but that clause expired on May 30 of this year.
Messi's entourage either believe that the coronavirus disruptions had a bearing on the contract and could mean that they have grounds to activate the clause, or they are simply testing Barcelona by transmitting this message.
In any case, Barcelona's response was swift and clear; he cannot leave for free, and his current release clause is a huge 700m Euros.
So Messi will stay at Barcelona?
Not necessarily. Just because the club will not allow him to leave for free does not mean that if the situation is completely untenable then they will not consider offers.
Messi is out of contract next year and free to negotiate terms with rival clubs from January 1. Therefore if Messi is insistent on his situation, and Koeman feels his continued unhappy presence will be a burden on the team, then a compromise may be reached in terms of his fee.
There will not be a situation where Messi will need to go looking for somewhere to sign, but the fee and the terms would have to be within reason, and that is something that Messi's actions over the contract clause could force.
Barca clearly think the clause is worthless, but would not want to enter into prolonged legal discussions at such a delicate time. So it is likely they would wish to resolve things soon. But with both parties so far apart in terms of their expectations, the situation could yet drag on.