What's that Benjamin Franklin saying about there only being two certainties in life? Lionel Messi has already felt the wrath of the Spanish authorities having a 21-month prison sentence commuted to a €250,000 fine in July 2017 for the use of tax havens in Uruguay and Belize.

It prompted the world's best footballer to give serious consideration to his future at Barcelona before he promptly signed a new three-year contract that November with scope for an extra year.

Now the death throes to his career with the Catalan club appear to be upon us again subject to a meeting tomorrow between club hierarchy, Messi and the player's father Jorge, who acts as his agent.

Last year, Messi gave an interview in which he talked about how he almost left Spain following the guilty verdict, which was handed out in 2016, saying “I felt that I was being very mistreated and I didn’t want to stay here. I never had an official offer because everyone knew my idea to stay here,” he said.

A solution was ultimately found culminating in a eye-watering contract that was signed in the autumn of three years ago. There has been success since in the shape of two La Liga titles but the absence of a Champions League to go with those won in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015, has become a bugbear.

In the meantime, Messi has adopted the comportment of a disgruntled teenager who has undermined the 'mes que un club' motto repeatedly in the last year with pronouncements on social media about the now-departed sporting director Eric Abidal.

There is a train of thought that says Bartomeu has contrived a scenario where Messi feels he has no choice but to leave Camp Nou yet that would not explain his decision to part with Abidal. The Barca president knows that the club has a massive financial shortfall as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and shocked the Spanish population when the club applied to use a government scheme for enforcing emergency pay-cuts and redundancies.

Bartomeu says Messi can leave if a club pays his £624m release clause, although you would figure that he might settle for significantly less if it meant saving a year's wages. Meanwhile, Messi can claim that the least he deserves for almost two decades of service is to be allowed to leave for a realistic price as a goodwill gesture. He won't need me to tell him that kind heartedness counts for nothing where multi-million pound commodities are concerned.

For all the tiresome media 'bants' about which of sundry destinations – from Wycombe to Sunderland – Messi might be headed (yes, the BBC actually carried a feature speculating over this on its website) there are two European clubs – Paris St-Germain and Manchester City – who could realistically afford his salary, never mind the release clause.

It says much about the ownership of those clubs that they have heavy links to energy rich gulf states. The press down south has been salivating at the prospect of the best player in the world rocking up on English shores for the forthcoming season, almost simultaneously forgetting about the kicking that they gave City over UEFA's decision to suspend the club from the Champions League for two seasons – a ban since overturned – for alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.

One would wonder at how City find the means to pay Messi's £100m annual salary given the circumstances surrounding their recent run ins with UEFA over FFP. Europe's governing body will be watching developments with hawk-like interest. It would seem certain that the only way in which City would be able to remain within FFP guidelines would depend on Messi successfully persuading Barca that he is entitled to a free transfer under the terms of a clause in his contract allowing him to leave the club for nothing in the final year of his deal.

He says that due to coronavirus the spirit of the clause means it should be extended. Not surprisingly, the club and La Liga – mindful that it would lose its biggest ticket item should Messi leave – say that the clause has expired. Now he is threatening to go on strike and has already missed the club's Covid testing programme ahead of the start of the new season. It seems his mind is made up.

In football, there always comes a breaking point and the fact that Messi has lasted so long at one club is testimony to his own and Barcelona's prodigious success over the past two decades.

His career haul of 704 goals, 298 assists, six Ballon d'Ors, four Champions Leagues and 10 La Liga titles speaks for itself and is evidence of the sweat and tears exerted by him in that period.

But signing for a plastic club such as City – and everything it represents – just feels wrong for the greatest player of all time. Furthermore, it would spell out once and for all that FFP is utterly redundant when a club of Barcelona's size cannot cope with the financial constraints of Covid and one the size of City's can.