Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona until June 30 at the earliest.
The Barcelona captain has announced his intention to remain at the Camp Nou until the end of his contract, which runs to 2021.
“I never wanted to go to court with Barcelona because it’s the club that I love,” Messi told Goal.com as he revealed his stance.
“If that was the only way of leaving, I’m staying.”
He is now expected to return to pre-season training ahead of the start of LaLiga Santander this month.
This announcement comes after talks were held between Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Jorge Messi, Lionel’s father and agent, this week.
During a meeting between the pair on Wednesday, Bartomeu made it very clear that he wasn’t prepared to sell Messi this summer, referring to the 700 million euro release clause in his contract.
“I thought and was sure that I was free to leave, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not,” Messi added.
“Now they cling to the fact that I did not say it before June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for LaLiga in the middle of this awful coronavirus and this disease altered all the season.
“And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club.
“Now I am going to continue in the club because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700m euro clause, and that this is impossible.”
Bartomeu also refused to agree on an asking price for the Argentine this summer.
As a result, Messi has decided not to denounce his contract because he didn’t want to take the matter to court, damaging his and the club’s reputations in the process.
Furthermore, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, the clubs interested in signing him this summer, didn’t want to get involved in a transfer that would be decided in court.
It’s a major U-turn from Messi, who only handed in a transfer request to Barcelona via burofax on August 25.
“Throughout the year I had been telling the president that I wanted to leave, that the time had come to seek new goals and new directions in my career,” Messi explained.
“He told me all the time ‘We’ll talk, not now, this and that’, but nothing.
“The president did not give me a clue at what he was really saying.
“Sending the burofax was making it official that I wanted to go and that I was free and the optional year – I was not going to use it and I wanted to go.
“It was not to make a mess, or to go against the club, but the way to make it official because my decision had been made.
“If I don’t send the burofax, it’s like nothing happens, I have the optional year I had to have continued all year.
“What they say is that I did not say it before June 10 – but I repeat, we were in the middle of all the competitions and it was not the moment.
“But apart from that, the president always told me ‘When the season is over, you decide if you stay or leave’.
“He never set a date and, well, it was simply to make it official that I wouldn’t continue, but not to start a fight because I didn’t want to fight against the club.
“I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go.
“I’ve been telling him that all year, I believed it was time to step aside.
“I believed that the club needed more young players, new players and I thought my time in Barcelona was over.
“I felt very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here.
“It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room.
“Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new ambitions.
“It did not come because of the Champions League result against Bayern, no – I had been thinking about the decision for a long time.
“I told the president and, well, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he did not keep his word.”
Messi went on to reveal the moment he told his family about his desire to leave the Camp Nou.
“When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” he said.
“The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools.
“But I looked further afield and I want to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League.
“You can win or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete.
“At least compete for it and let us not fall apart in Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon.
“All that led me to think about that decision that I wanted to carry out.
“Of course, I had a hard time deciding.
“It does not come from the Bayern result, it comes from many things.
“I always said I wanted to end here and I always said I wanted to stay here.
“That I wanted a winning project and to win titles with the club, to continue expanding the legend of Barcelona.
“The truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by.
“As I said before, I always thought about the welfare of my family and the club.
“Mateo is still little and he doesn’t realise what it means to go somewhere else and make your life a few years elsewhere.
“Thiago, he is older, he heard something on TV and found out something and asked.
“I didn’t want him to know anything about being forced to leave, to have to live in a new school, or make new friends.
“He cried to me and said ‘Let’s not go’.
“I repeat that it was hard, really.
“It was understandable, t happened to me.
“It is very difficult to make a decision.
“I love Barcelona and I’m not going to find a better place than here anywhere.
“Still, I have the right to decide.
“I was going to look for new goals and new challenges.
“And tomorrow I could go back, because here in Barcelona I have everything.
“My son, my family, they grew up here and are from here.
“There was nothing wrong with wanting to leave.
“I needed it, the club needed it and it was good for everyone.
“My wife, with all the pain of her soul, supported and accompanied me.”
Messi’s reputation also took a hit after the news of his transfer request was made public.
“It has hurt me a lot that things are published against me and, above all, that false things are published,” he said.
“Or that they came to think that I could go to trial against Barcelona in order to benefit myself.
“I would never do such a thing.
“I repeat, I wanted to go and it was entirely my right, because the contract said that I could be released.
“And it is not, ‘I’m leaving and that’s it’.
“I was leaving and it cost me a lot.
“I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily.
“Lately I have not found happiness within the club.
“I always put the club before anything else, I had the possibility of leaving Barcelona many times.
“Every year I could have left and earned more money than at Barcelona.
“I always said that this was my home and it was what I felt and feel.
“To decide there was somewhere better than here was difficult.
“I felt that I needed a change and new goals, new things.”
The 33-year-old has one more season left before can leave the Catalan club for free when his deal expires on June 30, 2021.
“I will continue at Barcelona and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go,” Messi added.
“I will do my best.
“I always want to win, I’m competitive and I don’t like to lose anything.
“I always want the best for the club, for the dressing room and for myself.”
Winning the Champions League one more time with Barcelona still hangs in Messi’s mind.
“I said it at the time that we were not given the support to win the Champions League,” the forward said.
“Actually, now I don’t know what will happen.
“There is a new coach and new ideas.
“That’s good, but then we have to see how the team responds and whether or not it will give us to compete at the top level.
“What I can say is that I’m staying and I’m going to give my best for Barcelona.”
Coronavirus has changed the face of football this year and now Messi’s focus is on performing for those who have suffered recently.
“As usual, I am going to give my best,” he said.
“I will do my best to fight for all the objectives and hopefully I can dedicate myself to the people who have had a bad time.
“I had a bad time this year, but it is hypocritical to say that if you compare it with people who have really had a bad time with the coronavirus, with people who have lost relatives and who have lost many things.
“Hopefully I can give my best and dedicate victories to all those people who accompany us and their families, to be able to dedicate the best to those people who are having a bad time and that we can overcome once and for all we can overcome this virus and return to normality.”
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