Spanish La Liga has insisted that the €700 million release clause on Lionel Messi’s contract with Barcelona is still valid contrary to the belief of Messi and his representatives. Hence, the league body stressed that any club that wants to sign the 33-year-old Argentine football icon should pay for the release clause before Messi could be de-registered as a professional footballer in Spain.
Messi and his representatives including his father, Jorge, who also act as his agent, have insisted that the release clause on his contract was no longer valid and he could walk away for free to any club of his choice. However, Barcelona insisted that the clause on his contract which gave him the right to walk away at the end of any season expired in June, hence, his suitor must meet up with the release clause on his contract.
To prove that he is no longer legally bound to the club, on Sunday, Messi failed to comply with the club’s instruction to undergo a PCR test (Coronavirus test) which was mandatory for him to do before he could join the rest of the team in pre-season training. His failure to show up for the test means that he would not participate in the training which was seen as a straight message that his release clause was invalid and he was free to go.
La Liga’s intervention
In its first official reaction to the lingering saga, La Liga said in a statement issued on Sunday, hours after Messi failed to show up at the club’s training facility for his PCR test that he would not de-register Messi until his release clause has been met.
The statement read: “With regard to the different interpretations (some of which are contradictory) relating to the current contractual situation of FC Barcelona footballer Lionel Andres Messi that have been published across various media outlets in recent days, having analyzed the player’s contract with the club, La Liga would like to clarify the following.
“The contract is currently valid and contains a release clause which is applicable should Lionel Messi decide to trigger the early unilateral termination of the contract, in accordance with article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985 of 26 June, which regulates the special employment status that professional sportspeople have.
“In compliance with the applicable regulations and protocol that apply in such instances, La Liga will not carry out the prior visa-release process for the player to be unregistered from the (Royal Spanish Football) Federation if the sum in the aforementioned clause has not been paid beforehand.”
Messi’s Release Clause: What La Liga’s intervention could mean
Lionel Messi’s four-year contract which he signed with Barcelona in 2018 will expire in June 2021. He has made it clear to the club that he is not interested in renewing his contract and he wants to leave for free this summer.
The club wants him to stay and is also ready to accept an offer that meets up with the €700 million release clause on his contract. This amount is seen as an impossible figure for a club to pay for one play amid the coronavirus pandemic that has affected the revenue of clubs across the world.
Since La Liga has officially backed Barcelona that Messi still has a valid release clause, it means that it is going to be a long battle between Messi and Barcelona which might end up in a Spanish court or force Messi to remain at the club until June 2021 when his contract will officially expire.