Messi informs Barcelona he will snub first day of pre-season


Lionel Messi and his legal team have informed Barcelona that the Argentine will skip pre-season medical tests as he continues to push for a way out of the club.

The Blaugrana are beginning to prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, with a number of players having already reported for pre-season training.

Sources confirmed when Barca players do begin arriving for standard pre-season medical tests, Messi will not be among them. The move comes 24 hours after his lawyers requested talks with Barcelona and were flatly refused.

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After a failed attempt to instigate a peaceful solution to his stand-off with the club, Messi was always likely to go back on the offensive. However, in communicating his no-show, he is also understood to have reiterated his desire to negotiate his departure from the club with an amicable settlement.

Messi believes beginning pre-season with the rest of the squad would contradict his stance that, having sent a burofax informing the club of his intention to leave on Tuesday, he is now a free agent.

Barcelona continue to insist that notice that he wanted to leave should have been served in June and he is back under contract with a €700million release clause.

But with Messi now in open rebellion, the pressure will be on President Josep Bartomeu to sort out an increasingly embarrassing situation for the Catalan club.

Messi will be fined for his no-show and those financial penalties will multiply with every day of pre- season that he stays away, further damaging the relationship between club and player. There had been a sense among the hierarchy at Barca that by seeking talks, Messi had blinked first in this stand-off.

The board felt justified in their belief that Messi overplayed his hand in exercising the fiercely-disputed clause in his contract, which the player says makes him a free agent.

Messi was hoping the issue would be resolved quickly, that Barca would be forced to permit him to enter into negotiations with City immediately.

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.

In theory, Messi could simply sign for City and wait for a FIFA panel to adjudicate on his status. However, that would be an incendiary move, which he wants to avoid. It would also recast City as a club bent on taking on football’s authorities and elite clubs, just as they appeared to be heading for more cordial relations, having won their Financial Fair Play dispute with UEFA.

More importantly, it would run the risk of City eventually being ordered to pay the massive release clause, which is a potential liability no club could afford.

Messi must hope that City and Barcelona reach a compromise transfer fee that would leave the Catalan club with their honour intact and fulfil his desire to rejoin former manager Pep Guardiola.

Barca, however, 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. They are interested in City defender Eric Garcia but see that as independent of Messi’s situation.