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 that 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, Barcelona insist the clause has expired and that the only way Messi will leave the club is if a buyer pays his €700m release clause.
La Liga has now bolstered Barcelona’s stance by releasing a statement reading: “In compliance with the applicable rule, La Liga will not approve a request to be de-registered as a player with the Spanish football federation, unless the amount in the release clause has been paid.”
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.
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.