Despite his legal team arguing otherwise, La Liga has confirmed Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract remains valid, meaning he cannot walk away for free, and a club would have to pay the $833 MILLION release clause to sign him.

Messi’s contract, which he signed in 2017, contains a clause that would have allowed him to leave the Catalan side for free if he had put in an official request by June 10.

But, despite that date passing, his legal team said that the specific day was set in the contract to signify the end of the Spanish season, and the COVID-19-delayed nature of the season made it void. 

Messi later confirmed to the club that he would not attend either Sunday’s medicals at the club or new boss Ronald Koeman’s first training session with the team on Monday as he made clear his desire to leave the club.

However, La Liga issued a statement Sunday morning confirming that the Argentinian ace’s contract at Barcelona is still valid and the only way for the player to be released from his contract is for a bidding club to trigger the $833-million (700-million Euro) release clause.

“In compliance with the applicable rule, La Liga will not approve a request to be de-registered as a player with the Spanish Football Federation, unless the amount in the release clause has been paid,” the statement read.

The 33-year-old six-times world player of the year informed Barcelona on Tuesday that he wished to leave immediately. Manager Quique Setien shortly left the club and was replaced by Ronald Koeman, but it seems the Dutchman’s arrival has done little to change Messi’s mind.

But the news of La Liga’s decision to uphold Messi’s Barcelona contract will put a major roadblock in the way of any potential departure, with the club able to play hardball with any potential suitors, while demanding an astronomical fee to secure his signature.