Lionel Messi can only leave Barcelona if his $823 million (£624m/€700m) release clause is met, La Liga have confirmed on Sunday.
Messi handed in a transfer request to the Barca board last week, with a view to triggering the clause in his contract which allows him to leave the club at the end of each season.
The clause in question technically expired in June, but the Argentine’s legal team are ready to argue that he should be allowed to terminate his deal unilaterally.
Manchester City is thought to be the most likely next destination for Messi, with reports that ex-Barca boss Pep Guardiola has been in touch over a potential reunion at Etihad Stadium.
Paris-Saint Germain, Juventus and Manchester United are also thought to be considering a move for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, but La Liga have now revealed their stance on hs current situation.
Spanish football’s main governing body have insisted that the terms of Messi’s current contract, which is due to run until 2021, remain valid, which means he will not be able to leave the club unless a potential suitor pays his €700 million (£624m/$823m) buy-out clause in full.
An official statement on La Liga’s website reads: “In relation to the different interpretations (some of them contradictory to each other) published in recent days in different media, related to the contractual situation of the player Lionel Andrés Messi with FC Barcelona, LaLiga considers it convenient to clarify that, once the player’s contract with his club:
“The contract is currently in force and has a “termination clause” applicable to the event that Lionel Andrés Messi decides to urge the early unilateral termination of the contract, carried out in accordance with article 16 of Royal Decree 1006/1985, of June 26, by which regulates the special employment relationship of professional athletes.
“In compliance with the applicable regulations, and following the corresponding procedure in these cases, LaLiga will not carry out the prior visa process for the player to be removed from the federation if they have not previously paid the amount of said clause.”