The 700m euros (£624m) release clause in Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract is still valid, La Liga announced yesterday.
Messi, 33, informed the club on Tuesday that he wished to leaveand did not attend a pre-season medical on Sunday.
The Argentina forward plans to invoke a clause that would allow him to depart the club for free but Barcelona argue the deadline for that has expired.
Spain’s top-flight competition La Liga now says it will not de-register the player unless the clause is met.
“In compliance with the applicable rule, La Liga will not approve a request to be de-registered as a player with the Spanish football federation, unless the amount in the release clause has been paid,” the body said in a statement.
Messi was due at Barcelona’s training ground at 10.15am local time on Sunday but did not attend.
The player’s lawyers plan to exercise a clause in his four-year contract, signed in 2017, which would have allowed him to leave the club for free if he had requested to do so by 10 June.
They will argue that date, nominally the end of the season, is now irrelevant after the coronavirus delays that led to the season’s extension and the team playing deep into August.
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng said at the weekend that he could see problems between Messi and Barcelona even before their stunning Champions League quarter-final victory.
Barca suffered one of the worst defeats in their entire history at the hands of Bayern in Europe last season.
Hansi Flick’s men knocked them out of the Champions League at the last eight stage, winning 8-2 in a one-off knockout tie in Lisbon.
The humiliating result cost Quique Setien his job, and compounded a miserable campaign for Barca which saw them fail to win a trophy for the first time since 2007-08.
Ex-Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman has been brought in to oversee a squad rebuild, with wholesale personnel changes expected ahead of the new season. One unexpected name on the list of potential outgoings at Camp Nou is Messi, who submitted a formal transfer request last week.
The Argentine has been vocal on Barca’s failings in Europe in recent years, and was also critical of the team’s level following their La Liga defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid in July.
The loss to Bayern pushed Messi to his limit, with the 33-year-old now seeking to activate the release clause in his contract which allows him to leave on a free transfer.
Boateng insists he could see that the Barca superstar’s patience was wearing thin before coming up against him in the Champions League, which Bayern went on to win by beating Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain. “You noticed in advance that there was drama between Messi and Barcelona,” the German defender told Bild.
Messi has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, where his former mentor Pep Guardiola is currently plying his trade, and Boateng can see a final deal coming to fruition due to their past relationship.