Lionel Messi has announced his decision to stay at Barcelona following several weeks of intense speculation surrounding his future.
The legendary forward confirmed in a world exclusive interview with Goal.com on Friday that he will stay at Camp Nou for the 2020-21 season.
However, Messi has admitted that he is frustrated and angry with the club, especially with under-fire president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
“I told the club, especially the president, that I wanted to go. I’ve been telling him all year. I believed it was time to step aside. I believed that the club needed more young people, new people and I thought my time in Barcelona was over.
“I always said I wanted to end my career here and I always said that I wanted to stay here. Also, I wanted a winning project and to be able to win titles with the club to continue expanding the legend of Barcelona. The truth is there has been no project or nothing for a long time.
“They (the club) juggle and they’re plugging holes as time go by. As I said before, I always thought about the well-being of my family and the club.
“I am going to continue at Barça and my attitude is not going to change no matter how much I wanted to go. I will do my best. I always want to win, I’m competitive and I don’t like to lose anything. I always want the best for the club, for the dressing room and for myself.
“I said it at the time that it wasn’t enough for us to win the Champions League. Actually, now I don’t know what will happen. There is a new coach and a new idea. That’s good, but then we have to see how the team responds and if it will give us or not to compete.”
Messi, who missed training under new head coach Ronald Koeman this week, will now reunite with his teammates ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
The 33-year-old admits it was a “brutal drama” when he informed his family of his desire to leave.
“When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” he told Goal.
“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.”
Messi, as recent reports have suggested, insists he felt he was a free agent following the conclusion of the 2019-20 season.
“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 added.
“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.”
Messi also revealed that his eldest son, Thiago, took the news of his potential exit particularly badly.
“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.”
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