La Liga has confirmed Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract is still valid – hours after he failed to attend a pre-season medical at the club.
Having informed Barça on Tuesday of his intention to depart, Messi is attempting to exercise a clause in his contract that allows him to leave the club for free at the end of each season, although the club argues that the clause has already expired. Reports on Saturday night claimed that the 33-year-old’s €700m release clause no longer applies in the final year of his contract but a statement from the Spanish league’s governing body on Sunday denied that is the case.
“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 said in a statement.
Earlier, Messi failed to show up for coronavirus testing at Barcelona’s training complex having reportedly informed the club via in advance via Burofax – a form of recorded delivery provided by Spain’s postal service. Video footage showed players arriving for coronavirus tests on Sunday morning and Messi did not appear. He had been due at Barcelona’s training ground at 10.15am local time. Players had been given staggered appointments throughout the morning until midday.
Messi’s decision not to attend means he will be unable to participate in Ronald Koeman’s first training session as Barcelona’s new head coach on Monday afternoon. It is is understood that Messi decided against turning up because it might undermine his legal claim to have legally announced his release. Manchester City remain favourites to sign the six-times world player of the year.
Barcelona’s sporting director Ramon Planes said earlier in the week that the La Liga giants will “count on Messi for the future” despite the apparent wish of the player to leave a club he has been associated with since the age of 13.