La Liga have sided with Barcelona in the Lionel Messi contract saga by releasing a statement insisting the 33-year-old can’t leave the club unless his release clause (rumoured to be €700m) is met.
Player and club have been embroiled in a battle surrounding Messi’s future, as the Argentine has handed in a transfer request in order to push through a departure this summer.
Messi – who was the only Barcelona player to not turn up for the pre-season PCR test on Sunday – has a clause in his contract that stipulates he may walk away from the club for free at the end of each season, but this is only if he provides prior warning of his decision and does so in a particular time frame.
For last season, that was 10 June, which Barcelona argue has expired, although Messi’s legal team claim this was extended to meet with the coronavirus pandemic postponing football.
Now, in another twist, La Liga have released a statement saying that he will not be sanctioned to leave by the league without his release clause having been paid – a potential blow to Messi’s exit hopes and suitors Manchester City.
Messi’s current contract runs until 2021 and can only be brought to an end via the clause being met – unless a suitable transfer fee can be agreed with Barcelona.
This is not the first time La Liga have weighed in on Barcelona’s player-club disputes. Back in 2017, as Neymar pushed through with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, La Liga chief Javier Tebas threatened to block that the French side’s €222m transfer, citing a breach of Financial Fair Play rules.
The timing of La Liga’s press release comes after a report from Sport claimed Messi could take his case to FIFA in order to depart his only senior club to date. The role of FIFA and CAS would be to negotiate whether his €700m release clause is a fair price, based on his age, contract length and earnings. Also, the fact he is the best player on planet earth.
Elsewhere, Jorge, Messi’s father, is due to travel to Barcelona in the coming days to meet with the club’s president Josep Bartomeu to discuss an amicable conclusion.
As per Mundo Deportivo, Jorge wants to sit down for a civilised conversation about his son leaving Camp Nou. Bartomeu, however, is not expected to be willing to negotiate and will attempt to make peace in order to shift the conversation towards renewing Messi’s Barcelona contract.
FULL LA LIGA STATEMENT BELOW
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 considers it convenient to clarify that, once 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 urge the early unilateral termination of the contract, carried out in accordance with article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985, of June 26, by 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.