Updated in Spain on Friday 4 September at 21h
Lionel Messi has confirmed that he is to remain at Barcelona.
In an interview with Goal on Friday evening [see link below], Messi said that he ‘would never go to court against Barcelona’ and also accused the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, of going back on an agreement to let him leave.
‘I told the club I wanted to go. I had been telling them that all year,’ said Messi. ‘The club needed new, younger players and my time was over.’
‘I am staying because the president said the only way to go was to pay the €700m clause, which is impossible … [and] the other way was to go to court,’ he said.
‘I don’t know what will happen now,’ said Messi. ‘But I will give my best.’
🚨 WORLD EXCLUSIVE 🚨
Lionel Messi will NOT be leaving Barcelona, we can confirm.
We sat down with the man himself to clear up a few things 🐐
Here's what he had to say: pic.twitter.com/NfnhGpZpXc
— Goal (@goal) September 4, 2020
Spanish media have reported that Jorge Messi, the father and agent of Lionel Messi, has appeared to confirm that his son might remain at Barcelona for another season. Reports from Argentina also suggest that there is a 90% chance the player will now stay with Barça.
Messi’s father seemed to reply ‘yes’ when asked by a reporter if they had ‘considered Leo staying at the club for another season’, in a video broadcast by Cuatro TV. Some media, however, also report that he replied with ‘no se’ (‘I don’t know’). Either way, he did not deny that it was a possibility.
Jorge Messi arrived in Barcelona on Wednesday, landing at the private terminal in El Prat airport on a flight from the Argentine city of Rosario.
Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or six times, did not show up at Barcelona’s first pre-season training session on Monday, after also missing a required Coronavirus test on Sunday, as he tries to leave the club he joined as a 13-year-old.
Messi’s father has been followed throughout the city by reporters and TV crews since his arrival, and he has already also told reporters it would be ‘difficult’ for his son to stay at Barcelona.
Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City, coached by Pep Guardiola, have expressed an interest in signing him.
Barça directors met with Messi’s father and his advisors for more than two hours on Wednesday, but according to reports neither party was willing to alter their stance.
Further negotiations are expected to be held in due course between the club and Messi’s advisors, which also includes his brother Rodrigo.
Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or six times, considers that a clause in his contract, which expires next summer, means that he can leave on a free transfer – and that the clause was triggered on 25 August when a burofax stating his intention to leave arrived at Camp Nou.
But Barça have insisted that he is still tied to a 700m euro buy-out clause – a stance that has also recently been backed up by La Liga, who say that the release clause still applies.
In a statement issued on 30 August, La Liga said:
‘With regard to the various interpretations (some of which are contradictory) published by a number of media outlets in recent days in relation to the contractual situation surrounding FC Barcelona player Lionel Andrés Messi, after having studied his contract with the club, LaLiga considers it appropriate to clarify that:
- The contract is currently in force and features a release clause to be applied in the event that Lionel Andrés Messi should decide to activate the early unilateral termination of the contract, vidpursuant to Article 16 of the Royal Decree 1006/1985 of 26 June, which regulates the specific labour status of professional athletes.
- In line with the regulations and procedure that apply in such instances, LaLiga shall not proceed with the release required for the player to be deregistered from the Spanish Football Federation unless the aforementioned clause has been paid.
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