Lionel Messi wants out of Barcelona, and he’s trying to make sure he can make a clean getaway.
Messi has told Barca that he will not attend team COVID-19 testing on Sunday or training on Monday, according to ESPN.
Messi’s reported decision to skip those team activities is connected to his desire to leave the club. He formally notified Barca on Tuesday that he intends to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, which would allow him to unilaterally end his relationship with the team before his contract runs out in 2021. Attending those team events could muddy the legal waters, since Messi has exercised his opt-out clause and wants to walk away from his longtime club.
Make no mistake, the legal waters will be very muddy before this is over. The two parties are entering a standoff regarding that opt-out clause that only lawyers will be able to end.
At issue is the end date for Barca to be notified that Messi was exercising the opt-out without triggering the massive release clause. The deadline for Messi to notify the team about leaving was May 31, a date chosen because it marked the end of the season. But with COVID-19 pushing everything back several months, the season just ended.
Barca believes the deadline has passed and the only way Messi can leave is if a team pays his astronomical $828 million release clause. Messi’s camp apparently doesn’t think the date itself matters at all since the purpose was to mark the end of the season and not a specific date.
Messi has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, and reportedly wants his exit to be as graceful and friendly as possible. With Barca arguing that Messi’s opt-out clause has expired, it seems like they’re headed toward an acrimonious divorce.
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