Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona for the 2020/21 season it has been confirmed.
The Argentine sought to leave the club following a fall-out with the club’s board about the direction the club was heading in but the situation turned ugly when following Messi trying to rescind his contract, Barcelona refused and insisted that they were due his release clause or he wouldn’t leave.
Messi’s contract has a €700million release clause, but the 33 year-old has a clause in his contracts that allows him to leave for free if he informs the club by a certain date. Messi’s camp claims that despite that date expiring before they informed the club of his decision, the release clause isn’t active as the contract has entered an optional year now.
La Liga have publicly backed Barcelona, claiming they have seen the contract and the clause is in fact valid but Messi’s camp have rebutted claiming with the exact clause they are referring to which they believe allows Messi to leave for free.
Despite this back and forth, Messi has now announced that he will be staying at Barcelona for the remainder of his contract as he “doesn’t want to go to war with the club he loves.”
“When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” Messi told Goal in a world exclusive interview.
“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. 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.”
The likelihood is that Messi will now play out the year against his will and leave next summer but for another huge u-turn. The club will have a full year to check whether or not he’s serious about moving and to plan for the huge hole he’ll leave in the club.
With an election expected at the club in March, there is plenty of time for whoever takes charge to convince him that the direction they’re going in is the right one for him to see out his career. Manchester City on the other hand will wait for him almost certainly, although the future of Pep Guardiola may well be tied to the move.
What would happen if Barcelona chose to just not use Messi though? What if, as a statement, they opted to let Messi train with them but never play. Unless someone offers them an amount they deem acceptable or Messi either extends his contract or lets it expire, they just let him rot. At 33 years old, a year of not football would harm Messi and rob us and them of the chance of seeing greatness once again however it would send a message to the rest of the club that Barcelona are bigger than any club.
There’s no way that happens, because Messi is Messi and Barcelona are an absolute state right now. But the next 12 months will be very interesting when we see how Messi reacts to things happening at the club but also how he reacts on the pitch when he was so aggressive in letting the world know he wants to be anywhere but the Camp Nou.
At the end of the day, Messi stays and Barcelona win the battle. But the war is far from over.