Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has this evening put the speculation surrounding his future to bed, in confirming that he will in fact remain at the Camp Nou for the 2020/21 campaign.
Messi wants out
The name of 6-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has of course taken centre stage in the media for the last two weeks.
This comes on the back of a bombshell announcement on the part of the Argentine on the 25th of August.
After suffering Champions League humiliation for the 3rd-straight season, this time courtesy of an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich, Messi informed his long-time employers of his desire to seek out pastures new this summer:
Breaking: Barcelona confirms that Lionel Messi has told the club he wants to leave
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 25, 2020
The desire for a separation on the part of the board at the Camp Nou, however, was understandably far from mutual.
In turn, it was subsequently confirmed by a host of reliable sources that Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu had made clear that the only avenue by which the 33-year-old would be allowed to leave the club this summer was if his mammoth €700 million release clause was activated.
This came despite Messi himself having been hopeful that a long-standing clause in his Barca contract would in fact open the door for a free agent exit over the coming weeks.
‘I will stay’
The last 48 hours, however, saw the media tide surrounding Messi’s future begin to turn.
Despite it having previously appeared absolutely inconceivable that the superstar attacker’s future could yet lie in Catalunya, a mounting number of reports had suggested that he may be left with no choice.
And, as outlined above, as confirmed by Messi himself this evening, this has proven exactly the case.
In an explosive in-depth interview with Goal a short time ago, the Barcelona captain confirmed that, against his will, he will continue to line out in the colours of the Blaugrana next season, so as not to enter into a legal dispute.
The lengthy discussion, during which Messi went on to provide an insight into all of his current mental state, love for Barca and the effect of recent proceedings on his family, perhaps most significantly of all, also saw the veteran slam Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board at the Camp Nou as ‘a disaster’.
Some of the key excerpts from the interview in question are showcased below:
‘I wasn’t happy and I wanted to leave. I have not been allowed this in any way and I will STAY at the club so as not to get into a legal dispute. The management of the club led by Bartomeu is a disaster.’
‘I told the club, to the president in particular, that I wanted to leave. They know this since the start of the past season. I told them during all last 12 months. But I will stay here because I don’t want to start a legal war.’
‘The truth is that there is no project at this club. They just plug holes as and when things happen. I would never go for a war against the club of my life. That’s why I’m staying.’
‘I’ll continue at Barcelona and my attitude won’t change, no matter how much I have wanted to go. I told the club, the president, that I wanted to go. I’ve been telling him all year.
‘I believed it was time to step aside. I believed that the club needed more young players, new players.’
‘I thought my time in Barcelona was over, sadly – I always 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. 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.’
‘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 10 June, when it turns out that on 10 June 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 700m clause, and that this is impossible.’
‘I feel hurt by things that I heard from people, from journalism, from people questioning my Barcelonismo. It also helped me to see who is who. There are many very false people. “It hurt me when my love for this club was questioned. My love for Barca will never change.’
Finally, on his family, the Argentine added:
‘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. It 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.’
This article was edited by Josh Barker.