The hostile situation between Lionel Messi and Barcelona is beginning to turn ugly.
Messi is desperate to leave the Catalan club and believes he is now a free agent.
Barcelona, however, have made it clear to the Argentine forward that he can only leave this summer if a club pays his €700 million release clause.
However, there is currently some confusion over the €700 million release clause in Messi’s contract.
Cadena SER’s El Larguero programme are reporting that the release clause no longer exists after it expired.
Messi believes he is no longer contracted to Barça and wants to complete a move to Manchester City.
The 33-year-old failed to show up for coronavirus testing on Sunday morning, as this would have compromised his claim that his contract has been unilaterally terminated.
Messi was one of 31 players called up for the PCR test by Ronald Koeman.
His absence means that he will be unable to participate in pre-season training on Monday.
And on Sunday afternoon, La Liga issued a statement siding with Barcelona, maintaining that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner can only leave Camp Nou if another club pays his eye-watering buy-out clause.
The statement, per The Mirror, reads: ”In relation to the different interpretations (some of them contradictory to each other) published in recent days in different media, related to the contractual situation of the player Lionel Andrés Messi with FC Barcelona, LaLiga wishes to clarify that with regards to the player’s contract with his club:
– The contract is currently in force and has a “termination clause” applicable to the event that Lionel Andrés Messi decides to activate the early unilateral termination of the contract, carried out in accordance with article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985, of June 26, which regulates the special employment relationship of professional athletes.
– In compliance with the applicable regulations, and following the corresponding procedure in these cases, LaLiga will not carry out the prior visa process for the player to be removed from the federation if they have not previously paid the amount of said clause.”
But how has Messi reacted to this turn of events?
Well, the reliable Fabrizio Romano is reporting that Messi has no intention of changing his mind, despite La Liga’s intervention.
“He wants to leave and to start a new chapter,” Romano added in a tweet. “Barcelona told him again they won’t let Leo go for free to Manchester City – and La Liga position is part of their strategy. The saga is on.”
Basically, this is all far from over.
La Liga may side with Barcelona, but Messi’s lawyers will surely have plenty to say in response.
The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan tweeted: “La Liga always likely to take the club’s side, as they are basically an organisation formed by the clubs, to represent their interests and run their league. But it’s still a setback for Messi in both legal and PR realms I’d say.”
As things stand, it still appears likely that Messi has played his final game for Barcelona.