Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2020. 8:58 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Following his shock decision on Tuesday of this week to formally notify the only club he has ever played for, Barcelona F.C., of his decision to leave, Lionel Messi has very much become a wanted man.
But the 33-year-old Argentinian forward isn’t going anywhere, executives of Spain’s La Liga say, until someone meets the 700 million-euro (£624 million; US$833 million; BZ$1.671 billion) release clause in his Barcelona contract, which it says is still valid according to the BBC.
“In compliance with the applicable rule, La Liga will not approve a request to be de-registered as a player with the Spanish football federation, unless the amount in the release clause has been paid,” the body said in a statement.
Barcelona surrendered its league title to Real Madrid while Bayern Munich bundled them out of the Champions League in an 8-2 shocker in Lisbon, Portugal. There have been calls for a clearing out of players ahead of the expected stepping down of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu next year.
Messi today missed a pre-season medical examination ahead of returning to training on Monday. He wants to use a clause in his contract, signed for four years in 2017 that would allow him to exit for free if he had put in his request by June 10 this year, but the club says the deadline for this has expired.
Lawyers from both sides will argue that the June 10 date, which is normally the end of the season, is now irrelevant after the coronavirus delays that led to the season’s extension and the team playing deep into August.
BBC Sport columnist Guillem Balague writes that if the issue is resolved, Messi could be headed to Manchester City F.C. to reunite with former manager Pep Guardiola.
French champions Paris St Germain (PSG), runners-up in the UEFA Champions League, and Italian giants, Juventus, are also in the running, the latter serving up a tantalizing prospect of uniting Messi with rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time ever.
Barcelona have said the player is not for sale – unless of course someone thinks it is worth shelling out the 700m euros needed to trigger his buyout clause at this stage – and see no point in any further meetings for now, while Messi does not want to depart in a bad way, not because of the board but certainly because of the respect he has for the club and their fans, Balague writes.
Other teams have expressed interest but would need to shell out massive amounts to get the six-time Ballon D’Or winner and four-time Champions League winner to leave Spain.
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