Messi braced for £624m legal battle with Barcelona in bid to force Man City move

Lionel Messi must win a £624m legal battle to get his move to Manchester City.

Barcelona superstar Messi, 33, failed to show up for a coronavirus test on Sunday which means he cannot return to training on Monday as he tries to force his way out.

City boss Pep Guardiola is red-hot favourite to sign Messi who has demanded to leave Barcelona and his latest no-show further demonstrates he wants to move to the Premier League.

But his exit plan has been dealt a huge blow after La Liga backed Barcelona and insisted a get out clause allowing him to leave for free this summer is not valid.

It means that any club will have to either meet the £624m buy-out clause or hope Barcelona negotiate a lower transfer fee as the Messi saga becomes increasingly ugly.

La Liga is clearly determined not to lose their biggest star and have sided with Barcelona with a ruling they will not approve his request to be released from his contract. The clause was valid until the end of June but Messi argued the pandemic meant the season was extended.

But La Liga issued a statement: “In compliance with the applicable rule, La Liga will not approve a request to be de-registered as a player with the Spanish football federation, unless the amount in the release clause has been paid.”

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is frustrated at Barcelona and wants to leave with new manager, ex-Everton boss Ronald Koeman, facing a major crisis after the bitter public fall-out with Messi.

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Messi is understood to have deliberately not shown up for the test to underline his determination to leave Barcelona this summer.

His heart is now set on a reunion with ex-Barcelona boss Guardiola at Manchester City but the Premier League club know they may face a huge legal battle to sign the biggest star in world football and it will be much more expensive.

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