La Liga have weighed into the dispute over Lionel Messi’s contract at Barcelona by indicating that he will not be allowed to leave for free.

There is uncertainty over how much, if anything, Manchester City will have to pay for sign the player.

Messi’s camp insist that he should be a free agent now because of a clause in his contract that allows for early termination if he puts in a transfer request within an allotted time frame. With that in mind, the 33-year-old has failed to report for testing ahead of a return to pre-season training on Monday.

Barcelona believe the clause refers to a specific date that has already passed rather than being within so many days of the season, and are still intent on keeping a player who has a release clause of £632m.

That clause had reportedly run out too with fewer than 12 months remaining on the player’s contract, adding to the confusion over how much it will actually cost for Messi to leave Barcelona.

La Liga have issued a statement attempting to clarify the matter and they say that the release clause is still valid.

It read : “In relation to the different interpretations (some of them contradictory to each other) published in recent days in different media, related to the contractual situation of the player Lionel Andrés Messi with FC Barcelona, LaLiga wishes to clarify that with regards to the player’s contract with his club:

  • The contract is currently in force and has a “termination clause” applicable to the event that Lionel Andrés Messi decides to activate the early unilateral termination of the contract, carried out in accordance with article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985, of June 26, which regulates the special employment relationship of professional athletes.
  • In compliance with the applicable regulations, and following the corresponding procedure in these cases, LaLiga will not carry out the prior visa process for the player to be removed from the federation if they have not previously paid the amount of said clause.”