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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, September 7, 2020
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Messi ‘forced to stay’ at Barcelona

 

Lionel Messi said he will stay at Barcelona but only because the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu broke his word to let him leave.

Messi's stinging attack on Bartomeu and the club means his future still remains in doubt.

Even if he is not allowed to go this summer, 33-year-old Messi can negotiate with other teams from January 1 and leave for free when his contract expires in July.

Bartomeu could yet respond with his resignation, having previously indicated he would step down if Messi publicly said he was the problem and agreed to stay.

"It has been a long time since there has been a project or anything at all," Messi said in an interview with Goal.

"They are always juggling and plugging gaps."

Messi believed he had a clause in his contract that meant he could leave for free at the end of last season but Barca said that option expired on June 10.

"The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he didn't end up keeping his word," Messi said.

"And this is the reason why 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-euro release clause.

"This is impossible, and then the other way was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here."

Barcelona responded to Messi's pledge by posting a picture of the striker on Instagram in the club's new kit, with the caption: "I'm going to give my best. My love for Barça will never change".

Messi had requested to leave the club he joined as a boy following Barcelona's humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, with Manchester City the favourites to sign him.

His lawyers sent Barca a burofax on August 25 stating his intention to depart but Messi says he made his feelings clear to Bartomeu long before.

"I told the club, especially the president, that I wanted to go," said Messi. "I've been telling him all year. I believed it was time to step aside.”*AFP

 

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