Lionel missing! Barcelona face predicament over Messi punishment

Lionel Messi’s bid to force a switch to Manchester City is set to move up a gear this week when his dad Jorge meets with Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu.

Relations between the world’s best player and the fallen Spanish champions are set to sour further with Barca entitled to punish Messi for missing out on their return to training on Monday.

The 33-year-old snubbed Monday afternoon’s training session with new boss Ronald Koeman after missing the club’s coronavirus tests, conducted on Sunday.

Lionel Messi issues coronavirus advice

But Barca know that if they punish their star man they could push the row beyond the point of no return.

Messi is digging in on his stance that he no longer needs to train at a club where he is no longer under contract.

His lawyers say that a well-documented clause allowed him to go for nothing if he asked by June 10 – but that the date is now irrelevant because of the coronavirus.

Luis Suarez double helps Barcelona beat Madrid to Copa del Rey final

Without a coronavirus test he will not be able to train with his team-mates anyway – meaning he is unable to prepare with them for the new season.

Barca, meanwhile, have the support of La Liga who maintain Messi’s contract, which has a year left to run, is still enforceable with that staggering £623million buyout clause.

As such, Messi would still be the Spanish club’s captain and missing two instructions to join the team amounts to a serious offence in accordance with the collective agreement of the league and the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE).

Chelsea: Jose Mourinho sends message to fans about Maurizio Sarri's future

Messi’s father Jorge is set to meet with Bartomeu on Wednesday when the situation is expected to become clearer.

But Messi’s cousin, Maximiliano Biancucchi Cuccittini, has urged Barca to allow him to go to Manchester.