There has been another twist in the Lionel Messi transfer saga, as his £629million release clause is reportedly not active for the last season of his contract.
Cadena Ser claimed on Saturday that Messi’s 700m euros buyout clause is not applicable in his final year. Messi’s latest contract renewal in 2017 signed him to the club for three more seasons plus an optional extra, and his huge release clause does not apply for the optional 2020-21 season.
Barcelona have been attempting to hold onto Messi by citing his release clause, but it appears the forward’s lawyers had already known about this exception, while the club may not have yet realised.
Manchester City are reportedly close to signing Messi, as well as tying down manager Pep Guardiola to a contract extension, according to The Mirror.
Barcelona’s talisman has reaffirmed his desire to leave the club ahead of next season, with City currently the front runners for his signature.
City believe they can keep Guardiola on board for another three years by making the sensational signing, and Messi is also keen for his former boss to remain if he is to make the move to the Premier League.
It is thought that both Messi and Guardiola both require the other to be at the club, and they are apparently close to a mutually beneficial double deal.
Messi’s lawyers believe that having sent a burofax informing Barcelona of his intention to leave on Tuesday, he is now a free agent due to the hotly-disputed clause in his contract.
But Barcelona are hoping for a players-plus-cash deal totalling around £250million, rather than trying to get City to pay his supposed £629million release clause, which would most likely involve a legal battle.
His contract states that the club had to be notified by him if he wished to leave by June 10, to take advantage of the clause which would let him depart as a free agent.
Messi argues that the date is meant to indicate the end of the season and the exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus delay mean he fulfilled those criteria by exercising it last Tuesday.
Manchester City are understandably facing competition from Europe’s elite clubs for Messi, with PSG, Inter Milan and Juventus all entering the bidding war.
Barca maintain they have no interest in negotiating, nor in being compensated with what they see as City cast-offs, with Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva suggested as makeweights in a swap deal.
Meanwhile, new Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman already appears to be moving on from Messi, as he is intent on signing Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum, Sadio Mane and Lyon forward Memphis Depay.