Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona to avoid legal dispute but rages at club president Josep Bartomeu

Despite his unhappiness, Messi insists he will give his all for Barcelona next season under their new coach Ronald Koeman, with his current contract due to expire in June 2021.

Agence France-Presse September 04, 2020 22:58:16 IST
Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona to avoid legal dispute but rages at club president Josep Bartomeu

Barcelona's Lionel Messi gestures during a training session at the Luz Stadium in Lisbon on 13 August. AP Photo

Lionel Messi said on Friday he will stay at Barcelona, insisting he could never go to court against "the club of his life".

But he launched a stinging attack on Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, accusing him of going back on an agreement to let him leave for free at the end of last season.

"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 didn't end up keeping his word," Messi said in an interview with Goal, released on Friday.

"I thought and we were sure that I was free. The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not and now they hold on to the fact that I did not say it before 10 June when it turns out that on 10 June we were competing for the league in the middle of this virus and this disease that altered all the dates."

Messi, 33, added: "And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club... because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700-million-euro release clause.

"This is impossible, and then the other way was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here."

Messi had said he wanted to leave the club he joined as a boy after Barcelona's humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.

His lawyers sent a burofax stating his intention to go for free on 25 August but Messi says he had made his feelings clear to Bartomeu many times before.

“I told the club, especially the president, that I wanted to go," said Messi. "I've been telling him all year. I believed it was time to step aside.

Everything became difficult

"I believed that the club needed more young people, new people and I thought my time in Barcelona was over, feeling 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 goals, new horizons.

"It wasn't because of the Champions League result against Bayern, I had been thinking about it for a long time. I told the president and 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 end up keeping his word."

Despite his unhappiness, Messi insists he will give his all for Barcelona next season under their new coach Ronald Koeman, with his current contract due to expire in June next year.

Messi was absent from pre-season training last week as he continued to try to force a move.

“I am going to continue at Barca and my attitude is not going to change, no matter how much I have wanted to go," Messi said.

"I will do my best. I always want to win, I am competitive and I don't like to lose ever... I said before we couldn't win the Champions League. Now I don't know what will happen.

"There is a new coach and a new idea. That's good, but then we have to see how the team responds and if it means we can compete or not. What I can say is that I'm staying and I'm going to give my best."

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