MADRID: The Spanish league has come out in support of Barcelona in the contract dispute with transfer-seeking captain Lionel Messi.
The 33-year-old did not attend medical checks with the rest of the squad on Sunday morning in pursuit of his demand to leave the club. Messi believes that is his rights under a clause in his current contract which expires next year.
However LaLiga issued a statement on Sunday morning insisting it would recognise Messi’s exit only if his release clause – believed to be in the region of £625million – is paid in full.
The statement said: “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’s refusal to take the medical tests means he would not be cleared to link up with his team-mates as new Barca boss Ronald Koeman looks to work with his squad for the first time.
Messi was part of the Barcelona side that was thrashed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final but has now been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League with Manchester City to work under former manager Pep Guardiola.
With ongoing disagreements over the validity of the reported clause in his deal, it is likely that there will be no quick outcome.
Barcelona’s sporting director Ramon Planes said earlier in the week that the LaLiga giants will “count on Messi for the future” despite the apparent wish of the player to leave a club he has been associated with since the age of 13.