Messi is absent from Barcelona tests: this is what the panorama looks like 1:33
(CNN) - Lionel Messi did not show up for a coronavirus test at Barcelona's training ground on Sunday, club sources confirmed to CNN, casting further questions about his future in the powerful Spanish La Liga team.
Under La Liga rules, without passing a test, Messi will not be able to participate in preseason training with new coach Ronald Koeman, and the 2020-21 season will begin in two weeks.
Club sources told CNN that the rest of the Barcelona first-team squad had taken the test, with Messi being the only one absent.
Luis Suárez, Messi's friend and attacking partner, was among those who arrived at the Ciutat Esportiva training ground, despite reports that the Uruguayan international is not part of Koeman's plans for the new season.
Messi certainly is, but the 33-year-old legend surprised Barca bosses on Tuesday by submitting a transfer request, sent by Burofax to the Camp Nou offices.
Sunday's failed test will only heighten speculation that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is determined to end his 20-year association with the Catalan giants.
According to multiple reports, Messi considers that he has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave Barcelona for free this summer.Messi: The challenges of a key clause with FC Barcelona 3:53
The clause reportedly expired on June 10, but Messi and his associates believe he still has the right to activate it now due to the season being extended by the pandemic.
However, Barcelona insists that he must fulfill his contract, unless a release clause is paid, which is estimated at 700 million euros ($ 833 million).
"The club's position is that Messi has a valid contract until June 30, 2021," club sources told CNN.
La Liga aligns itself with Barça due to the contractual clause
Barcelona's position appeared to be strengthened on Sunday when La Liga issued a statement insisting it would only recognize Messi's transfer if that release clause is paid.
- LaLiga (@LaLiga) August 30, 2020
"In compliance with the applicable regulations, and following the corresponding procedure in these cases, LaLiga will not carry out the prior visa procedure for the player to be removed from the federation if they have not previously paid the amount of said clause," says the statement.
Barcelona's season ended with a humiliating 8-2 loss to eventual champion Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
With the triumph of archrival Real Madrid in the League, Barça ended the season without trophies for the first time since 2007/08, accelerating the departure of coach Quique Setién, replaced by former player Koeman.
Even before those events, Messi's dissatisfaction with the club's general direction was evident, reaching a critical point in February when sporting director and former teammate Eric Abidal accused the players of a lack of effort for former coach Ernesto Valverde was fired.What is the economic impact for Barcelona if Messi leaves? 4:53
Messi responded with scathing messages on his Instagram account, forcing the embattled club president Josep Bartomeu to call an emergency meeting with the two.
Abidal has also paid the price for Bayern's defeat with his departure from the club. Whether or not Messi remains in the team will be the subject of feverish speculation in the coming weeks, while Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain have been linked to a possible signing.