Lionel Messi has confirmed he has changed his mind and will remain a Barcelona player, just 10 days after he handed in a transfer request.
The six-times Ballon d’Or winner’s dissatisfaction had been growing long before last month’s Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in Lisbon.
Messi had been unhappy at the way in which former head coach Ernesto Valverde was dealt with prior to his sacking and never saw eye-to-eye with replacement Quique Setien, who was sacked following an historic defeat against Bayern.
The 33-year-old held crunch talks with Setien’s replacement Ronald Koeman, but was hardly sold on the Dutchman’s vision for the club and was saddened to see the former Everton boss sanction the departure of his close friend and team-mate Luis Suarez.
Meanwhile, Messi and his father became embroiled in a bitter dispute with the club over the authenticity of a £700million release clause in his current contract.
Both La Liga and Barcelona maintain the clause is valid, and despite Messi’s father continuing to argue to the contrary, his son is now ready to commit his future to the club at which he has spent the entirety of his professional career.i
In a pre-recorded interview, he said: ‘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.’
He said, “When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama.
“The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools.
“But I looked further afield and I want to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League. You can win or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete.
“At least compete for it and let us not fall apart in Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon. All that led me to think about that decision that I wanted to carry out.
“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 (£624m/$823m) clause, and that this is impossible.
“There was another way and it was to go to trial,” he added. “I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, which gave me everything since I arrived.
“It is the club of my life, I have made my life here.
“Barca gave me everything and I gave it everything. I know that it never crossed my mind to take Barca to court.”