La Liga Clarifies Lionel Messi's Barcelona Contract Amid Transfer Request

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2020

Barcelona's Lionel Messi during the Champions League quarterfinal match between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez/Pool)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Lionel Messi's messy (ahem) divorce from FC Barcelona just got more complicated.

La Liga released a statement Sunday saying the disgruntled star's £632 million ($843.7 million) release clause remains in effect and must be paid if he is to leave the club.

"In relation to the different interpretations (some of them contradictory to each other) published in recent days in different media, related to the contractual situation of the player Lionel Andrés Messi with FC Barcelona, LaLiga wishes to clarify that with regards to the player's contract with his club:

  • The contract is currently in force and has a 'termination clause' applicable to the event that Lionel Andrés Messi decides to activate the early unilateral termination of the contract, carried out in accordance with article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985, of June 26, which regulates the special employment relationship of professional athletes.
  • In compliance with the applicable regulations, and following the corresponding procedure in these cases, LaLiga will not carry out the prior visa process for the player to be removed from the federation if they have not previously paid the amount of said clause."

Messi has claimed he is a free agent because he activated an early termination clause in the deal. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu previously admitted to Messi's deal having such a clause. 

"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," Bartomeu told Barca TV.

However, Barcelona insist the deadline for Messi to walk away has passed, despite the season being extended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Argentina superstar has refused to report to training, believing he is no longer under obligation to Barcelona. Manchester City is widely believed to be the favorite to land Messi once his contractual situation is sorted out.

Messi has played for Barcelona since joining the club's youth program in 2001. It's likely his departure will play out via an appeals system, barring Barcelona significantly reducing his world-record release clause.