“In compliance with the applicable rule, La Liga will not approve a request to be deregistered as a player with the Spanish football federation, unless the amount in the release clause has been paid,” La Liga said.
Barcelona players arrived for coronavirus tests on Sunday morning, but Messi did not appear. He had been due at Barcelona’s training ground at 10.15am local time, but a club source confirmed he had not arrived.
La Liga’s stance is a blow to Messi’s hopes of a quick departure and to those clubs wishing to sign him.
Premier League Manchester City are the favourites, a move that would allow Messi to link with his former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, but even the Abu Dhabi-owned club might find the get-out clause – plus Messi’s huge salary – a deal-breaker.
Messi, who has won more than 30 major trophies with the Spanish club and scored more than 600 goals, earns around €1 million ($1.6 million) a week.
He told Barca on Tuesday that he wished to leave immediately, plunging the club into new turmoil less than two weeks after their humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat by Bayern Munich.
Messi’s lawyers plan to invoke a clause in his four-year contract, signed in 2017, which would have allowed the forward to leave the club for free if he had requested it by June 10.
They will argue that that date – nominally the end of the season – is now irrelevant after the coronavirus pandemic forced an extension of the La Liga season deep into August.