Report: Lionel Messi to Skip Barca Training, COVID-19 Testing Amid Transfer Saga

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2020

Barcelona's Lionel Messi kicks the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Osasuna at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, July 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Joan Monfort/Associated Press

Lionel Messi reportedly will not participate in FC Barcelona's coronavirus testing Sunday or preseason training Monday after requesting a transfer.

According to ESPN's Moises Llorens and Alex Kirkland, Messi informed Barcelona of his decision Saturday amid a battle with the club regarding the language in his contract.

Messi and his legal team are reportedly arguing that he can leave the club without triggering a €700 million release clause in his contract since he informed the team of his decision within a certain time frame.

Barcelona feel as though Messi missed the deadline since a decision was supposed to be made by June, but Messi and his representatives believe the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the end of the La Liga season means his decision was made in time.

Part of his rationale behind not partaking in Barca's preseason training is reportedly the idea that doing so could hurt Messi's case in getting released from his contract.

ESPN's Llorens and Sam Marsden reported Friday that the English Premier League's Manchester City are confident Messi favors them in a potential transfer situation.

While Man City reportedly know landing Messi could be "extremely difficult" since Barca have been reluctant to part with him, they are "hopeful" Barcelona will eventually give in.

If Manchester City do secure Messi, the club is reportedly considering offering him a three-year deal to play for them in the EPL followed by a two-year option to play for New York City FC in the United States.

Per Llorens and Marsden, Messi spoke with Man City manager Pep Guardiola on the phone last week about his desire to leave Barca.

Messi reportedly spoke with former Barcelona teammate and current Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar about transferring as well. PSG reportedly have interest in Messi.

While Barcelona may not be thrilled at the prospect of moving a player who has scored 444 career league goals for them and led them to 10 La Liga titles, the 33-year-old Messi may force their hand.