Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer Lionel Messi says he is staying because it is impossible for any team to pay his release clause and he does not want to face the club in court.
The Argentine, 33, sent a fax to Barca last Tuesday saying he wanted to exercise a clause in his contract which he said allowed him to leave for free. But the club said his 700m euro release clause would have to be met. “I thought and was sure that I was free to leave,” Messi told Goal. “The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not. “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 700m clause, and that this is impossible.” Messi, whose contract expires next summer, says the fact he did not tell Barcelona 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,” he added. “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. I know that it never crossed my mind to take Barca to court.” Messi, who has been at Barcelona for 20 years, told the club he wanted to leave nine days after their 8-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champion League semi-finals. That meant Barca ended the season with no silverware, and they replaced manager Quique Setien with former Everton and Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman. Messi, who finished as top scorer in La Liga for a record seventh time last season, has not trained with his team-mates in recent days and admits the club’s lack of success influenced his decision. “When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” he added. “The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools.”