After extensive speculation regarding Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona, it turns out he will be staying with the club after all.
ESPN reports via Goal.com that the 33-year-old forward, who has been with the club for several years, has ultimately stayed with the team after he indicated he wanted to leave on a free transfer just last month. "I would never in my life go against the club's judgment and that is why I am staying in Barcelona," he explained in a statement. "It was a tough decision. I always said I wanted to end my career here and I do."
Barcelona refused to recognize the break in Messi's contract which would enable him to leave on a free transfer, claiming his opportunity to use the break was in June and therefore had already passed. He attempted to find a way out of the team, but ultimately he decided against taking the club to court.
"When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama," Messi said in his interview with Goal regarding his decision to stay. "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."
He said that his desire to leave was impeded on by Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who Messi claims was at one point willing to allow him to leave at the end of the 2019-20 season. "I thought and was sure that I was free to leave," he said. "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."
He went on to reveal that the president of the club informed him he could only leave if he paid €700 million, which is roughly $828 million. His only realistic option to leave would be to take the team to court, which he didn't want to do. "I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, which gave me everything since I arrived," he said. "It is the club of my life, I have made my life here."