Lionel Messi performed a U-turn on Friday and will stay at Barcelona for another year to end intense speculation about his future — but only because he did not want to enter a court battle with the club about his contract.
The news came hot on the heels of reports the Luis Suarez, Messi's Barca strike partner, is set to leave to join arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo at Italian Serie A champions Juventus.
The Argentine six-times world player of the year had told the club last month that he wanted to leave, insisting a clause in his contract allowed him to do so on a free transfer.
Barcelona, backed by La Liga, have insisted that a 700 million euros ($824 million) release clause would have to be paid.
“I wasn’t happy and I wanted to leave. I have not been allowed this in any way and I will stay at the club so as not to get into a legal dispute. The management of the club led by Bartomeu is a disaster,” Messi told website Goal.com.
“There was another way and it was to go to trial,” he added. “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 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.
“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.”