Barcelona: Spanish football league LaLiga has said Lionel Messi cannot leave Barcelona on a free transfer by stating his release clause that will have to be paid if he is to severe ties with the club.
The Messi transfer saga took another step forward last week with the news that he would not go to the club's training ground to take a planned coronavirus test.
Messi and the rest of the Barcelona squad, who played in their ill-fated Champions League campaign, were required to take the tests on Sunday before returning to pre-season training under new coach Ronald Koeman.
The talismanic striker had notified Barcelona 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.
LaLiga though 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.
"With regard to the various interpretations (some of which are contradictory) published by a number of media outlets in recent days in relation to the contractual situation surrounding FC Barcelona player Lionel Messi, after having studied his contract with the club, LaLiga considers it appropriate to clarify that:
1)The contract is currently in force and features a release clause to be applied in the event that Lionel Andres Messi should decide to activate the early unilateral termination of the contract, pursuant to Article 16 of the Royal Decree 1006/1985 of 26 June, which regulates the specific labour status of professional athletes.
2)In line with the regulations and procedure that apply in such instances, LaLiga shall not proceed with the release required for the player to be de-registered from the Spanish Football Federation unless the afore mentioned clause has been paid," a LaLiga statement read.