Barcelona unwilling to release Messi…for free

Barcelona is not willing to release Lionel Messi from his contract, the football club said yesterday.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the Champions League round of 16, second leg soccer match between Barcelona and Napoli at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

The club said it will not negotiate a release of the Argentine star who last week indicated he wanted to be released from his contract which ends in June 2021.

Messi invoked a clause in his contract to leave the club last week following its poor showing in the Champions League which saw it drop out at the quarterfinal round after suffering a 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich.

The Argentine star’s departure could cost US$830 million if he follows through on the threat to leave.

Messi also skipped out on a scheduled coronavirus test for the club today which is a requirement for the team which resumes training next week.

The player attempted to leave using a provision which allows his departure at the end of the season, however Barcelona argues that the stipulated date had passed. It’s believed Messi’s team will argue the season had not ended due to the extended play time amid the coronavirus pandemic which lengthened the usual playing season.

Should he press to leave, it could prove to be costly to the player who has a buyout clause of US$830 million.

The 33-year-old Messi has not spoken publicly since the team’s defeat to Bayern Munich on August 14, one of the worst in the club’s history.