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‘Imposssible to pay 700m’: Lionel Messi takes u-turn, decides to stay at Barcelona

However, Lionel Messi was very critical of Bartomeu, accusing him of “not keeping his word” and also criticising the direction of the club in recent years.

SNS | Niladry Sarkar |

Barcelona veteran Lionel Messi has taken a U-turn and decided to remain at the club till the end of the next season. Citing that it would be impossible to pay the 700m euro release clause, Messi said he would complete his four-year contact.

Messi, whose contract with Barcelona runs till the end of the 2020-21 season, had earlier expressed his desire to leave the Catalan club. But, on Friday he said that he would want to leave as a free agent and not drag his childhood club to a legal battle.

Also, his explosive interview with goal.com, where Messi shed light on his future, should ring an alarm bell in Barcelona management. The 33-year-old has explained how he felt in recent months.

“I didn’t feel happy this last year at the club,” explained Messi.

“I have been (wanting to leave) all year. I thought the team needed younger players and I thought my epoch at Barcelona had ended. It was a complicated year. I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything was very difficult and there came a moment when I decided to look for new objectives.”

“I wanted to go, and I was in my right to do so, because my contract said I was free. I wanted to go because I was thinking about being happy in my last years in football,” he commented.

Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, had arrived in Barcelona on Wednesday to find a solution to tussle between the footballer and the club. Barcelona had maintained that Messi’s contract had a clause that allowed him to move out of the club for free, but it needed to be activated by June 10.

The lawyers of the six-time Ballon d’Or winners, on the other hand, argue that the clause doesn’t refer to a specific date but to 10 days after the end of the 2019-20 season.

European season generally ends of May 30. But, due to coronavirus pandemic, the last season ended last week with the final of Champions League being played on August 23.

Thus, Messi’s lawyers believe that the Argentine captain was in his legal right on wanting to leave. But the Argentine has refused to move to the court against the club which he had joined at the age of 13.

“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,” Messi said.

“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.

“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 La Liga 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 700 million clause, and that this is impossible.

“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.”