Lionel Messi had finally decided to stay at Barcelona after he made a u-turn over his bid to leave the club. Messi shocked the world when he publically declared his decision to leave his club on August 25th. However, his decision to stay at the club comes after some intense discussion between Jorge Messi and Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Messi’s father, Jorge, who is also his son’s agent, arrived in Barcelona on Friday for a face-to-face talk with Bartomeu.
Messi wanted to use the clause in his contract, which allows him to leave free at the end of every season. However, according to Barcelona, that clause in his contract expired in June. They claim that if Messi wants to leave, his next club will have to pay his €700 million release clause. This claim was later backed by LaLiga, who said they wouldn’t process Messi’s transfer unless his buyout clause is paid.
The decision to stay was followed up by an explosive interview by Messi in which he heavily criticized the club and explained why he wanted to move away from the club.
“For some time now we have not had a plan or anything [at the club], we have been making quick fixes and improvising,” Messi said, adding that the press release he sent to the club announcing he wanted to leave “was only to make it official that I wanted to go because the president was not paying attention to what I was saying.”
According to Barcelona, the player’s decision to leave is driven by his desire for new challenges. But according to the club, Messi can pursue those dreams if he desires from 2021.
Messi, in his statement, confirmed that decision he decided to stay at the club because he wanted to avoid any legal disputes with the club.
“I’m going to stay at the club because the president told me the only way to leave was to pay the €700m clause, which is impossible, and that the alternative was going to court. I would never take Barca to court ever because it’s the club I love,” Messi said.
He added: “All year I’ve been telling the president I wanted to leave, that the time had come to look for new challenges in my career. …. Sending the burofax was making it official that I wanted to leave and that I’d go for free, I wasn’t going to use the optional year, and I wanted to go. It wasn’t meant to cause trouble or to go against the club; it was a way of making it official because my decision was taken.”
However, Messi felt that his pleas to leave the club were ignored by the club.
“What they say is that I didn’t tell them before June 10th, but we were in the middle of all the competitions, and it wasn’t the moment,” Messi said. “As well, the president always said to me, ‘When the season is over, you decide if you want to stay or go’ — he never said date, and it was simply to make it official that I wasn’t carrying on. It wasn’t to start a fight, because I didn’t want to fight with the club.”
Messi went on to add that this decision to leave is not based on the team’s Champions League exit and that this was built up over time.
“It doesn’t come from the Bayern result, it comes from many things,” Messi said. “I always said I wanted to end my career here, and I always said I wanted to stay here. I wanted a winning project and to win trophies with the club. … The truth is that for a while there hasn’t been a project or anything, they’ve been juggling things and plugging holes as things happen. I’ve always thought about the well-being of my family and the club.”
Manchester City looked favorites to sign Messi. According to the sources, Messi would have stayed at Manchester City for a few years before joining City’s sister team New York City FC.
However, those plans look to be on hold now, after Messi changed his mind in order to avoid a legal battle.
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