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Barcelona - Messi Stays.... For Now

But saga set to run and run...

Going nowhere - Leo Messi pictured here in Lisbon the day following the 2-8 defeat to Bayern, has decided to stay at Barcelona.... for now.
Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Lionel Messi says he is staying with Barcelona because it is “impossible” for any team to pay his release clause and he does not wish to face “the club I love” in court, reports BBC Football.

Although Messi was sure he was free to leave, the club insisted his 700m euro release clause would have to be met.

“The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not.”

Messi, whose contract expires next summer, says the fact he did not tell Barca he wanted to leave before 10 June was crucial, and had he done so his release clause would not have had to be met.

“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, because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700m clause, and that this is impossible.”

Manchester City were among a short list of clubs linked with Messi after he wrote to Barca stating his intention to depart, nine days after the Bayern humiliation.

But family reasons may also have played their part. The player 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.

“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.”

The saga however would appear far from over and Ronald Koeman must be wondering what he’s walked into.

Does he build a team around Messi, or not? How does he accommodate Messi in his side given that only one year remains on his contract. If Messi stays until the end he can leave for free, or should Barca decide to cash-in, they would be forced to sell Messi no later than the January transfer window.

Messi during his interview also produced a brutal assessment of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu -

“There has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as they go along.”

Bartomeu is scheduled to remain as president until March, but given Messi’s comments there’s unlikely to be room for both in the same organization. Bartomeu’s position may now have become untenable following Messi’s critique.

I expect we’ll see how thick the president’s skin is in the coming days.