Lionel Messi ignores required coronavirus tests with Barcelona

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In another sign that Lionel Messi’s time at Barcelona is coming to an end, the player did not show up for the required coronavirus tests scheduled for the entire squad on Sunday.Barcelona have said Messi is the only player who has not been tested at the club’s training center. The team should resume training on Monday before the next start of the season.

The club also reiterated their position not to negotiate Messi’s early release, claiming that president Josep Bartomeu will only sit with the player if he has to extend his contract beyond next season.

Messi expressed his desire to leave the club last week, but Barcelona want him to play the contract which ends in June 2021. The club have also said they are not negotiating a possible transfer with another team.

Messi announced his decision to leave on Tuesday by sending the club a burofax, a certified document similar to a telegram. He invoked a contract clause that allowed him to leave for free at the end of the season, but the club claim the clause has already expired. A legal battle is expected to unfold as Messi will argue that the season has been extended beyond the date the clause expired due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Argentinian big has reportedly said they want to negotiate with the club, but Barcelona said on Saturday they were unwilling to facilitate his exit. The club have said they would like Messi to end his career with the Catalan club.

Coach Koeman now in charge

The Spanish league made its first public remarks on the case on Sunday, issuing a statement that Messi’s contract is currently valid and can only be terminated with payment of his buyout clause. Barcelona have said the clause is set at € 700million.

League president Javier Tebas said a few months ago that the league was not really affected financially after Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid to join Juventus, without seeing a reduction in TV audiences or contracts rights. But he said Messi’s departure could be different and could possibly be ‘noticeable’ for the league.

There were rumors earlier in the week that Messi would show up for Sunday’s tests to avoid breaking team rules when negotiating his departure, but his team reportedly informed the club on Saturday of his intention to do not attend the tests.

Barcelona will resume training with incoming coach Ronald Koeman in charge following the sacking of Quique Setien following the team’s 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on August 14. The defeat, one of the worst of Messi’s career. and in club history, prompted Barcelona to announce “deep” changes to the first team and a “wide” restructuring of the club.

Koeman reportedly told Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Samuel Umtiti that they weren’t in his plans for the future, but that they all showed up for the required tests on Sunday.

Suarez is a longtime teammate and friend of Messi, and the decision to get rid of the Uruguayan striker is said to have upset Messi and played a role in his decision to leave.

Messi, 33, had been blunt about the club’s bad decisions this season, his first trophy-less since 2007-08.

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