NEW DEVELOPMENTS have emerged regarding Lionel Messi’s exit saga at Barcelona after La Liga released a statement confirming the Argentine’s €700 million (R13.8 billion) release clause is still valid.
Read: Messi weighing up pre-season return for Barca?
This is contrary to reports that it has already expired which surfaced amid Barcelona’s best-ever player’s ongoing transfer dispute at the Catalan giants. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner reportedly did not turn up at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, the club’s training ground and academy base, on Sunday for the club’s coronavirus tests, which must be taken and passed if he is to join Ronald Koeman’s first pre-season session on Monday.
Messi’s lawyers are adamant the 33-year-old could activate a clause in his contract to leave the club on a free transfer, as it was believed a release clause did not exist in the final year of his contract. However, La Liga’s stunning declaration adds yet another twist to the summer’s biggest transfer saga.
Per a report by the UK’s Mirror on Sunday afternoon, the statement read: “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,” the statement started before adding, “La Liga 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.”
The statement, again, added: “In compliance with the applicable regulations, and following the corresponding procedure in these cases, La Liga 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.”
The news will come as a bitter blow to Manchester City who looked to be leading the race to sign Messi, although Sky Sports have reported this still does not change Messi’s plans to leave the Camp Nou this summer with his current contract set to expire in 2021.
Ahead of this, it is believed a reunion in the Premier League with Pep Guardiola – with whom he won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues between 2008 and 2012 – appeals to Messi.