MADRID: Lionel Messi’s shock announcement that he wants to leave Barcelona looks like the opening salvo in negotiations around the fine detail of his contract and the all-important get-out clause, a Spanish sports lawyer said on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Argentine has declared his wish to leave the club whose academy he joined at the age of 13, beginning a glittering career which has soured over the past 12 months under the management of president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Messi’s lawyers have referred to a clause in the four-year contract he signed in 2017 which would have allowed him to leave the club for free, but only if he requested it by June 10.
They will argue that that date – nominally the end of the season – is now irrelevant after the coronavirus delays that led to the season’s extension and the team playing deep into August.
The club will argue that the May date is the relevant one and so his departure now would trigger a monster 700 million euros ($827 million) release payment from any interested club.
“I think Barcelona is in a stronger position but Messi has certainly showed the weakness Barcelona might have,” sports and business lawyer Santiago Nebot, who has acted as general counsel for Spanish soccer players’ union AFE, told Reuters.
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