Lionel Messi performed an incredible climbdown on Friday, admitting defeat in his attempt to force a move to Manchester City.
The 33-year-old confirmed he was staying at Barcelona until the end of the forthcoming season because the club had blocked his transfer by insisting on demanding his astronomical release clause was met.
‘I am going to continue at this club because the president has told me the only way I can leave is if I pay the €700million (£625m) and that is impossible,’ he said.
Lionel Messi has confirmed he will remain at Barcelona due to his desire to avoid a legal battle
The superstar’s bombshell U-turn was officially announced in an interview on Friday evening
Messi’s desire to avoid a courtroom battle with the club is the main reason behind his decision
‘The only other way was to go to court and I would never take Barcelona to court because I love the club. 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 keep his word.’
Messi appeared to be willing to fight on yesterday when his father Jorge issued a statement that appeared to quote directly from his contract stating: ‘The release clause will not apply after the end of the 2019-20 season.’
The statement criticised La Liga for supporting Barcelona’s right to demand £625m for his sale and condemned the Spanish league’s ‘obvious lack of impartiality’.
But that was the last shot fired before the white flag was raised.
Messi sat down with Goal to discuss his reasons behind his disillusionment with Barcelona
Messi told the club he wanted to leave last month after growing tired of the club’s leadership
La Liga responded by accusing Messi of having taken the clause out of context. Messi told new coach Ronald Koeman he wanted to leave Barca two weeks ago. Five days later he sent the club a burofax informing them that he believed he was a free agent having officially triggered a clause in his contract.
The club insisted Messi had missed a June 10 deadline to exercise it.
Messi said in an interview with website Goal last night: ‘We were sure I was a free agent. The president always said at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to stay or not. And now they hold on to the fact that I did not say it before June 10. But in June we were still competing in La Liga in the middle of this f****** virus. That had changed all the dates.’
Jorge Messi had refuted claims from Barca that his son has a €700m release clause in his deal
He had also slammed LaLiga for getting involved in the saga and insisting a fee must be paid
Messi denied the 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich triggered his desire to leave but said years of Champions League failure and mismanagement pushed him to try to force his way out.
‘You can win or lose but you have to be able to compete and not have what happened in Rome and Liverpool,’ he said picking out two heavy defeats, including the 4-0 loss at Anfield in 2019.
‘The truth is that there has been no clear project here for a long time, they juggle and plug holes with no real plan.’
Messi accused Barcelona chief Josep Bartomeu of backtracking on a promise to let him leave
Manchester City’s hopes of snapping up Messi in a sensational swoop have now been ended
Messi made no secret of his desire to leave but Barcelona’s firm stance prevented his exit
City are still interested in Kalidou Koulibaly but negotiations with Napoli are being conducted via the defender’s agent.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said: ‘How can we have a normal negotiation? They won’t talk with us because of the Jorginho deal.’
City felt Napoli reneged on that deal in 2018 when Jorginho joined Chelsea
Messi also revealed his family were left shocked and emotional by his initial decision to leave