Sport

Suarez, Vidal only players pushing for Messi stay

Lionel Messi’s Barcelona team-mates Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal are the only players pushing for the forward to stay at the Nou Camp.

Barcelona consider Messi to be on strike and have fined him for failing to report for training on Monday and Tuesday, while the Argentine no longer considers himself a part of Ronald Koeman’s squad.

There has been a deafening silence from most of Koeman’s playing staff regarding Messi’s situation, with the exception of Suarez – whose future at the club remains unclear – and Arturo Vidal, who is in a similar position.

The rest of the Barcelona squad, including those in Messi’s inner circle such as Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, have so far kept quiet.

Messi’s father and representative Jorge is expected to meet with the Barcelona hierarchy, including president Josep Maria Bartomeu, on Wednesday to discuss his son’s future.

Messi, who has played for the club for almost 20 years, informed the club last week he wants to leave.

La Liga seems to have dashed his 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.

Sky Sports News has confirmed the 33-year-old has requested a meeting with senior figures at the club to resolve the impasse over his transfer request.

Messi, who has a buyout clause of €700m (£627m), has been tipped to move to Manchester City, where he could link up with his former manager Pep Guardiola.

A move to the Etihad Stadium would also see him link up with international colleagues Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi, while Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan are also said to be preparing offers for the player widely considered to be one of the best footballers of all time.

The 10-time La Liga winner and four-time Champions League victor has asked to activate his release clause that would end his contract, which is due to expire in June 2021, and permit him to leave for free this summer.

But Barcelona have clearly expressed this clause in his contract has already expired.

Messi’s lawyers are arguing that – in the spirit of the deal and good faith – the clause is still active after the rescheduled Champions League final on August 23, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since making his debut in the 2003/04 campaign, Messi has played 731 games for Barcelona, scoring 634 times in all competitions.

Messi did not turn up for Barcelona training on Monday, with the forward no longer considering himself a part of Ronald Koeman’s squad.

Messi’s father and representative Jorge is expected to meet with the Barcelona hierarchy, including president Josep Maria Bartomeu, on Wednesday to discuss his son’s future.

Sky Sports News has confirmed the 33-year-old has requested a meeting with senior figures at the club to resolve the impasse over his transfer request.

Messi had, for a while at least, believed he could walk away from Barcelona on a free transfer by exercising a clause in his contract which stipulated he could leave at the end of every season without a single Euro being paid to the club.

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, La Liga has bolstered Barcelona’s stance, with the club insisting the clause has expired and the only way Messi will be allowed to leave is if his €700m release clause is paid in full.



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