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Lionel Messi staying at Barcelona after all

Lionel Messi staying at Barcelona but the drama is far from over. “When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” Messi told Goal. “The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools.

Lionel Messi says he is staying at Barca because it is “impossible” for any team to pay his release clause and he does not want to face “the club I love” in court.

“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.”

However, that ambition to accept a new challenge was thwarted by Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, whom Messi claims reneged on a promise he could leave at the end of 2019-20.

“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,” 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.

“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 only one way out if Messi was to leave: taking Barcelona to court. “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.”

Messi opened up to Goal on the heartbreaking conversation he had with his son, Thiago, who didn’t want to leave, while praising his wife Antonella for standing by his side through all of the backlash for his desire to leave Barca.

“Mateo is still little and he doesn’t realise what it means to go somewhere else and make your life a few years elsewhere,” he said.

“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.” Spanish football writer, Andy West, said this could still turn messy. “So Messi is staying, but this saga is far from over,’’ he told BBC Sport.

“One notable takeaway from his interview was his brutal assessment of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, as he lamented: ‘there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as they go along.’

“Bartomeu’s tenure as president finishes in March but he will now come under heavy pressure to resign immediately, and it’s hard to see how he and Messi can coexist in the same club after such a vicious character assassination.’’

Source – The Herald

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