La Liga has dashed Lionel Messi’s hopes of leaving Barcelona on a free transfer by stating his release clause will have to be paid if he is to leave the Nou Camp.
Messi notified Barcelona this week he intends to walk away from the club by exercising a clause in his contract that allows him to leave for free at the end of each season.
Even though the deadline to exercise the clause has passed, Messi’s lawyers believe Barcelona should honour it as the season had to be extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, La Liga has bolstered Barcelona’s stance, with the club insisting the clause has expired and the only way Messi will be allowed to leave is if his €700m release clause is paid in full.
A La Liga statement on Sunday read: “With regard to the different interpretations (some of which are contradictory) relating to the current contractual situation of FC Barcelona footballer Lionel Andres Messi that have been published across various media outlets in recent days, having analysed the player’s contract with the club, La Liga would like to clarify the following.
“The contract is currently valid and contains a release clause which is applicable should Lionel Messi decide to trigger the early unilateral termination of the contract, in accordance with article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985 of 26 June, which regulates the special employment status that professional sportspeople have.
“In compliance with the applicable regulations and protocol that apply in such instances, La Liga will not carry out the prior visa-release process for the player to be unregistered from the (Royal Spanish Football) Federation if the sum in the aforementioned clause has not been paid beforehand.”
La Liga’s intervention comes just hours after Messi failed to report for coronavirus testing at Barcelona’s training complex, meaning he will be unable to participate in Ronald Koeman’s first training session as the club’s new head coach on Monday afternoon.
It is understood the 33-year-old warned the club in advance via Burofax – a form of recorded delivery provided by Spain’s postal service – that he was not going to be present. If Messi does manage to negotiate his Barcelona exit, Manchester City are currently the favourites to sign him.
Messi’s representatives are expected to meet with Barcelona officials next week to discuss the current impasse, and the 33-year-old still wants to personally meet with the club hierarchy to negotiate his release. The club have so far refused and said they will only meet to talk about a new contract.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s push to depart the Nou Camp comes after Barcelona finished the season without a trophy for the first time in 12 years and ended the campaign with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
— Sky Sports