Lionel Messi remains determined to leave Barcelona this summer and will not link up with the rest of the squad on Sunday for the Covid-19 test.
Thirty-one players have been cited by recently-appointed head coach Ronald Koeman to undergo coronavirus tests, but Messi has informed the club that he won’t be attending, per Catalan broadcaster RAC1.
Because he isn’t following Covid-19 protocols established by La Liga, Messi will be unable to join his teammates for pre-season training.
Catalan newspaper Sport are reporting that Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu will send Messi and his lawyers a message via burofax informing the Argentine forward that he remains under contract and must attend the PCR test.
However, in a shock twist, Bartomeu’s understanding of Messi’s current contractual situation might not be accurate.
Cadena SER’s El Larguero programme - per Spanish newspaper AS - have revealed that Messi has no buy-out clause applicable to the final year of his contract, which is 2020-21.
Spanish journalist Guillem Balague has described the relegation as a “new extraordinary twist”, adding: “As told by El Larguero, the €700m buy out clause DOES NOT exist in last season's contract (and the club had not realised?).
“Messi won't go to squad's PCR test tomorrow Sunday as going would go against his interpretation of contract -that he is free.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Bartomeu himself admitted that Messi had the option of leaving before the start of the 2020-21 season.
"Messi has a contract that we signed two years ago, a four-year deal, in which in the final season, before the start of the 2020/21 season, he can leave Barcelona, to quit football or to go elsewhere," he told Barca TV, per Marca.
”Other players such as Xavi, Iniesta and Puyol also had [this option] when they renewed for the last time.
"The fact is that these kind of players, including Messi, are such Cules that I doubt they will go to another club.
"They have to have the freedom, because they have earned it, to decide their future and when they want to stop playing football.
"I do not suffer, Messi is very much a Cule and I have no doubt that he will continue to play for Barcelona, and I hope that he will do for many more years, not just until 2021."
The Mirror are reporting that Barcelona are ‘desperately trying’ to broker a £250 million compromise with Manchester City over Lionel Messi.
But this latest update suggests that City could sign the six-time Ballon d’Or winner on a free transfer.
Meanwhile, The Sunday Times’ Duncan Castles is claiming that Messi is holding firm on his decision to reunite with Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.
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