Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona

PAU BARRENA / AFP

Lionel Messi ended speculation about his future at Barcelona by announcing on Friday that he would reluctantly stay for another season, rather than tackle his career-long club in court.

A week after saying he wanted to leave the Liga side, and with a contract row still raging, the 33-year-old six-time player of the year gave the news Barca fans were hoping for.

In doing so, however, the Argentine forward took a big swipe at the club's hierarchy.

"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," he was quoted as saying by Goal.com.

"The management of the club led by (president Josep Maria) Bartomeu is a disaster.

"I told the club, the president in particular, that I wanted to leave. They knew this since the start of the past season. I told them during all (of the) last 12 months. But I will stay here because I don't want to start a legal war."

By remaining at the Catalan club for the fourth and final year of his contract the six-time world player of the year is in line for a $83.38 million loyalty bonus and will be able to leave without a transfer fee.

"I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go," he said. "I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily. Lately I have not found happiness within the club."

Earlier on Friday, Messi's father and representative Jorge had insisted in a letter to La Liga that a 700 million euros ($828.03 million) release clause in the player's contract was not valid and his son could leave for free.

However, despite the standoff between the Messi camp and Barcelona and La Liga, the player has ended the impasse and will see out his contract with the club with whom he has won more than 30 major trophies and scored over 600 goals.

Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League last month with an 8-2 demolition by eventual winners Bayern Munich, and hired Ronald Koeman to replace sacked coach Quique Setien.

 

 

 

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