Lionel Messi’s hopes of leaving Barcelona on a free transfer has been dashed by the La Liga, stating that his release clause will have to be paid for him to leave the Nou Camp.
Messi notified Barcelona this past week of his intention to walk away from the club by exercising the clause in his contract that allows him to leave for free at the end of each season.
Although the deadline to exercise the clause has passed, Messi’s lawyers believe Barcelona should honour it since the coronavirus pandemic caused an extension to the season.
Nonetheless, Barcelona’s stance has now been bolstered by the Spanish LaLiga, with the club insisting that the clause has expired and the only way Messi will be allowed to leave is if his €700m release clause is paid in full.
The LaLiga released a statement on Sunday saying: “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, LaLiga 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, LaLiga 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.”
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La Liga intervened after Messi failed to report for coronavirus testing at Barcelona’s training complex in preparation for Ronald Koeman’s first training session as the club’s new head coach on Monday afternoon.
It is believed that the 33-year-old notified the club in advance via Burofax – a form of recorded delivery provided by Spain’s postal service – of his intended absence.
Manchester City are currently the front runners for Messi’s signature should he manage to negotiate his Barcelona exit.
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.