Despite Lionel Messi's recent request to opt-out of his contract and leave Barcelona, the club is standing firm on clubs paying his €700 million release clause to pull him out of Camp Nou.

According to journalist Veronica Brunati, the club maintains that his release clause expired on June 10, even if the 2019-20 season finished well after that date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dharmesh Sheth of Sky Sports explains it cleanly here:

“He has a release clause of €700 million, there is a clause within that contract that says he can leave for free at the end of every season should he decide he wants to leave Barcelona,” Sheth explained. “Messi would say ‘the season has finished late, so under the contract — the season finishes, I can still leave for free' whereas Barcelona would say ‘this is an exceptional circumstance because the season got extended with regards to the coronavirus, so we'll still refer to the season ending when it would have ended before', which would have been in May or early June. So they'll say, ‘actually, that's when the clause expires, so then the €700 million release clause becomes active.'”

No need to read between the lines here. Barcelona won't make this exit easy for Lionel Messi and they will fight tooth and nail to get as much money as they possibly can for his player rights.

Even before Messi decided to leave Barcelona, the club offered that any team willing to negotiate with him must first meet the €700 transfer fee in his contract — a daunting heap of money for even the richest of clubs.

Teams like Manchester City and Inter Milan have inquired about the megastar's availability in the past, but this long transfer saga is not over by any means of the imagination.

Barcelona likely is prepared to go to the court of arbitration to argue this rather unique complexity in the contract language — one that could result in the loss of millions of euros for the Catalan club.