Barcelona have escalated their contract row with Lionel Messi by vowing to take their captain to court should he seal a free transfer away from the club, according to reports in Spain.
Sport claim the Catalans will also begin legal proceedings with the club that signs the Argentine following links of a move to Manchester City.
Messi last week stunned Barca bosses after handing in a transfer request, signalling his intent to leave the club after 16 seasons.
The 33-year-old has claimed that a release clause in his contract allows him to quit for nothing with immediate effect.
However, Nou Camp officials believe the stipulation expired on June 10, with the Argentine superstar under contract until the summer of 2021.
And LaLiga have backed Barcelona insisting Messi’s £629million buy-out clause is still valid.
The forward has since taken matters into his own hands and refused to turn up to training ahead of the new season.
SunSport previously reported that City and Pep Guardiola could sign Messi on a provisional transfer.
Spanish outlet Sport cited a precedent that allegedly exists between Fifa and the Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sport that would see Messi’s right to work “prevail” over the commercial dispute between the two parties.
A report today argued that Barcelona will now take the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and City – should they sign him – to court if Fifa grants the move.
Messi and his lawyers meanwhile are ready to battle on two legal fronts as they feel the Spanish giants do not have a leg to stand on.
His father and agent Jorge have since jetted into Barcelona from Argentina for showdown talks over his son’s future.
When quizzed by reporters, Messi Snr admitted it will be ‘difficult’ for his son to stay at Barca, given the contract fall-out between both parties.
His team-mates are also in turmoil over the superstar’s shock decision to quit Barcelona, admits Frenkie de Jong.