Lionel Messi confirms Barcelona stay
It's official: Lionel Messi has confirmed that he's staying at Barcelona - but he's not happy about it.
Lionel Messi has decided to stay at Barcelona for the coming season following a contract dispute with the club.
Messi told Barcelona, via his lawyers, last week that he had activated a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave for free before the 2020-21 season.
The club disputed the claim saying the clause expired on June 10, a position backed by La Liga, meaning paying his €700million (£632m) release clause is the only way to trigger a transfer.
After a number of meetings between club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Messi’s father, and agent, Jorge, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner says he will stay for another year as he does not want to take the club to court.
Messi, who has been with the Catalan club since the age of 13, told goal.com: “I am going to continue in the club because the president (Josep Bartomeu) told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700million clause, that that is impossible, and then the only other way was to go to court.
“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 said he had been telling Bartomeu “all year” that he wanted to leave.
“Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new goals,” he said.
“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.”
Asked about the reaction to his announcement in some quarters, the 33-year-old added: “It hurt me when my love for this club was questioned. No matter how much I go or stay, my love for Barca will never change.”
In further criticism of the Bartomeu regime, Messi said: “The truth is that there has been no project for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by.
“I repeat, I wanted to go and it was entirely my right because the contract said that I could be released. And it’s not ‘I’m leaving and that’s it’. I was leaving and it cost me a lot.
“I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go. 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.
“There is a new coach (Ronald Koeman) and a new idea. That’s good, but then we have to see how the team responds and whether or not it will give us to compete. What I can say is that I’m staying and I’m going to give my best.”