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– Insider Notebook: Real Madrid stars stunned by Messi exit talk
Although Barca believe that period expired in June, Messi’s legal team contend the clause remained valid until this week due to the delayed end of the campaign.
There is a feeling that attending training sessions ahead of the 2020-2021 season could have a legal impact on his claim that he has already unilaterally ended his contractual relationship with Barca.
Messi assessed the situation with his advisers and informed the club on Saturday afternoon that he would not be undergoing a coronavirus test alongside his teammates.
Players involved in Barcelona’s Champions League campaign this month – including their disastrous 8-2 quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich – are due to start working with new coach Ronald Koeman on Monday.
Messi’s refusal to show up for tests and training raises the prospect of an embarrassing and ongoing showdown between the player and the club.
Messi is yet to speak in public, although sources have told ESPN he is expected to do so at some point.
Sources told ESPN on Thursday that Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu was ready to step down if it meant the player would change his mind.
Messi’s decision to leave, however, is seen as firm, with Manchester City favorites to sign him.
Sources have told ESPN that City are confident Messi will forgo any other team’s efforts to sign him.
His desire is to end his relationship with Barca in the best possible way, and on Friday he and his lawyers called for a meeting to start talks about his departure.
The club insist, however, that they have a contract until 2021 and the only way to end it is to pay their € 700million release clause.