Lionel Messi agrees to remain with Barcelona for 2020-21 season, rips management
Lionel Messi has agreed to remain with Barcelona for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. The megastar of LaLiga ultimately budged after conversations between his father Jorge and Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu took place on Wednesday, with neither side moving an inch from their position.
Jorge Messi insisted his son could leave for free at the end of the 2019-20 season while Bartomeu and the Barcelona brass stood pat on the idea of only letting him leave if his €700 million clause is paid.
Lionel Messi sent a burofax to the Camp Nou 10 days ago, notifying the Barcelona board he would leave by exercising a unilateral clause in his contract that would let him leave on a free transfer.
“I wasn’t happy and I wanted to leave,” Messi told Goal in an exclusive interview detailing the saga. “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.”
“I told the club, the president in particular, that I wanted to leave. They know this since the start of the past season. I told them during all last 12 months. But I will stay here because I don’t want to start a legal war.”
The Argentine star had not spoken to the media since an 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, an elimination that proved a huge blow to the club and its players.
Messi explained his disappointment in the club, considering Barcelona has suffered losses in the Copa Del Rey, LaLiga, and the Champions League — going trophyless in 2019-20.
“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.”
Lionel Messi is staying with the club, but only to avoid a long and taxing legal war with Barcelona and smear a run of 20 years with the club on his way out. Barcelona could also fine him up to 25% of his weekly salary for every missed practice after missing COVID-19 testing last Thursday and the team’s first training session on Friday.
Messi calling management a “disaster” will put the wheels running for the dismissal of president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who promised he would leave if Messi stayed — calling for immediate elections and a whole new regime.
After roughly a month of tension in the air, Lionel Messi will be a prisoner of the Camp Nou for the next 10 months, likely having paved his departure with his actions this summer.
However, if things turn around under new manager Ronald Koeman, there is an outside chance those plans could change if Josep Maria Bartomeu is fired swiftly and the incoming Barcelona brass proves more capable than the last.