Lionel Messi can only leave F.C. Barcelona before his contract expires next June if he pays a multi-million-euro cancellation fee, La Liga announced on Sunday.
The organisers of the Spanish football championship said in a press release that the Argentinian footballer is bound by his contract, which expires on 30 June 2021. Under the agreement between the player and the Spanish club, he can only leave before that date if the sum of 700 million euros is paid.
Reacting to contradictory interpretations published in the media regarding Messi’s contractual status with Barcelona, La Liga said it “considers it opportune to clarify that (…) the contract is in force and has a ‘cancellation clause’ by virtue of Article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985 of 26 June, which governs the special working relationship of professional athletes.”
This clause, La Liga said, applies if Messi should decide unilaterally to break the contract.
In keeping with existing regulations and procedures, LaLiga “will not effectuate the visa procedure required for the player to withdraw from the federation if he has not paid the amount of the said clause,” the League declared.
Various Spanish media had reported last week that, under a clause in his contract, Messi could leave the club freely.
Messi wants to leave Barcelona before the new season starts. The six-time Ballon d’Or would like to invoke a clause in his contract stating that he can benefit from a free transfer, but that would have had to be activated before 10 June. Since the championship continued beyond 30 June, the traditional date for the end of the season, Messi feels he, too, can adapt the clause’s activation date.
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has refused to negotiate Messi’s departure with the footballer. He maintains that he is only authorised to leave if the contractual cancellation fee of 700 million euros is paid up. The Barcelona president knows fully well that no club would pay such an amount, and does not want to go down in History as the president who sold Messi.
On the other hand, should Messi stay on for another season, he can be transferred for free next year.
Messi, aged 33, was not present at Barcelona on Sunday for novel Coronavirus testing ahead of the new season. He will thus miss the first training session on Monday under the club’s new coach, former Dutch international Ronald Koeman.