The Argentine was required to attend Barcelona’s training ground to take a coronavirus test at 10.15am local time, with a volatile legal battle now looming between the Spanish club and its greatest ever player.
Messi’s absence further deepens the state of turmoil currently surrounding the club, as Barcelona insist they will not allow the 33-year-old to leave for anything less than his €700m release clause.
Messi’s lawyers plan to invoke a clause in his contract which would have allowed him to terminate his contract if he had informed the club by 10 June.
His legal team argue that that specific date is no longer relevant, as it was designed as a deadline after the season had ended, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing an extension that only saw this year’s campaign finally conclude in August.
Messi has reportedly asked for a meeting with the club to negotiate a more peaceful exit, but Barcelona are adamant they want him to stay and controversial club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has offered to resign in order to achieve that goal.
Messi informed Barcelona of his decision 11 days after the club’s humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich, leading to the sacking of Quique Setien and sporting director Eric Abidal.
Following the hiring of Ronald Koeman as the club’s new manager, Barcelona began plotting a huge overhaul of their ageing squad, with Messi’s close friend Luis Suarez one of those set to be forced out the door.
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