Ronald Koeman’s first day of pre-season… and Messi DOESN’T show up: Wantaway Barcelona star refuses to attend scheduled COVID tests as he attempts to force a transfer
- Argentina star Lionel Messi handed in a transfer request at Barcelona this week
- The 33-year-old was expected back for pre-season COVID-19 tests on Sunday
- Messi has not shown up for the tests as he looks to quit the LaLiga club
- Other Barcelona stars turned up for the tests, such as Arturo Vidal and Jordi Alba
The 33-year-old iconic forward shocked the world of football last week by putting in a transfer request at the LaLiga giants after a 16-year career which has see him score over 600 goals and win 33 trophies.
The Catalans were planning on making a serious effort to try and keep their talisman at the Camp Nou as the first-team squad return to pre-season training next week.
Lionel Messi has refused to show up for pre-season coronavirus tests at Barcelona
The 33-year-old is trying to push through a move to Premier League side Manchester City
But according to several reports, Messi has refused to take part in the squad’s COVID-19 testing scheme on Sunday which all players have to do before training begins again on Monday.
The striker was due at the Barcelona training ground just after 10am but did not show up at Joan Gamper training complex.
Other first-team stars, including Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Jordi Alba, were spotted turning up for the pre-season test. Arturo Vidal also showed up despite rumours he is set to leave the Camp Nou on a free transfer.
First-team stars such as Marc-Andre Ter Stegen showed up for the tests on Sunday
Ronald Koeman was spotted entering the Barcelona training centre ahead of the checks
Ronald Koeman was also seen arriving at the Barcelona training centre as he prepares to enter his first season in charge of the side he won the European Cup with in 1992.
Messi’s camp had warned the LaLiga club that he was not going to appear on Sunday in order to try and force through a move to Manchester City.
It is believed that the 33-year-old will be weakened in the legal dispute with Barcelona should he continue to abstain from pre-season training.
Arturo Vidal (above) also showed up for the tests despite rumours linking him with a transfer
As Messi looks to link up with Pep Guardiola (right) again, he is in a legal row with Barcelona
The Argentinian has a clause in his contract which allows him to leave after the end of each Barcelona season on a free transfer.
Messi activated that clause on Tuesday believing he was within his rights to do so, but Barcelona insist that the clause expired on June 10, ten days after the 2019-20 campaign was supposed to finish.
The season’s end date was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic temporarily suspending all matches in Spain from March until June.
The Argentina star is in a legal dispute with Barcelona over a free transfer contract clause
If Messi is not granted his free transfer, then Barcelona will look to get as much of his release clause – which stands at £630million – as they possibly can amid interest from Manchester City.
It is also rumoured that the Premier League could offer a smaller fee but offer up to three players in exchange for Messi’s signature.
A move to City would see Messi link-up with former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola once again.