Barcelona have dashed Lionel Messi’s hope of a free transfer this summer by insisting €700m release clause must be paid before he leaves Nou Camp.

Messi had notified the club last week that he wanted to activate his release clause which allows him to leave the club for free at the end of each season.

Although, the notification came after the required deadline, his lawyers believe the request is still valid since the season was extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, La Liga has intervened in the matter by throwing their weight behind Barcelona’s decision that €700m release clause must be paid before the Argentine star is allowed to leave.

A La Liga statement on Sunday read: “With regard to the different interpretations (some of which are contradictory) relating to the current contractual situation of FC Barcelona footballer Lionel Andres Messi that have been published across various media outlets in recent days, having analysed the player’s contract with the club, La Liga would like to clarify the following.

“The contract is currently valid and contains a release clause which is applicable should Lionel Messi decide to trigger the early unilateral termination of the contract, in accordance with article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985 of 26 June, which regulates the special employment status that professional sportspeople have.

“In compliance with the applicable regulations and protocol that apply in such instances, La Liga will not carry out the prior visa-release process for the player to be unregistered from the (Royal Spanish Football) Federation if the sum in the aforementioned clause has not been paid beforehand.”

Messi, on the other hand, failed to report for coronavirus testing at Barcelona’s training complex which means he is not eligible to attend new Barça boss Ronald Koeman’s first training session on Monday afternoon.

According to Sky Sports, the 33-year-old warned the club in advance via Burofax – a form of recorded delivery provided by Spain’s postal service – that he was not going to be present. 

FrujuSports had earlier reported that the six-time Ballon D’Or winner had earlier requested a personal meeting with Barcelona hierarchy to negotiate his contract.

His lawyers are expected to meet with Barcelona officials next week to discuss the current impasse and Messi is still hoping for a personal meeting.

But Barça have refused to grant any meeting unless it is to discuss a new contract.

Messi made his decision to leave Nou Camp after the club failed to win any trophy in the 2019/2020 season.

Should he succeed to leave, Manchester City are the top favorites for his next destination.