Messi

Messi interview as he decides to stay at Barcelona

Barça star Leo Messi announced he will be staying at the club in a televised interview, saying he cannot take the club he loves to court.

Messi interview as he decides to stay at Barcelona
LLUIS GENE AFP

Leo Messi has announced he is staying at Barcelona in an exclusive interview with Goal. While many expected a conciliatory interview, explaining his decision to want to leave but saying he had now decided he was now happy staying, the reality was anything but.

Messi's reason for leaving

Messi said his reason for wanting to leave was because he wanted "to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League. You can win it or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete."

That barbed comment made it clear Messi no longer believes Messi are capable of winning the Champions League, a situation made very clear by the 8-2 thrashing by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final.

Messi, in fact, says he had been telling Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu for a long time that he wanted to leave. "I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I've been telling him that all year. I believed it was time to step aside. I believed that the club needed more young players, new players and I thought my time in Barcelona was over. I felt very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here."

Messi continued, "It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new ambitions. It did not come because of the Champions League result against Bayern, no – I had been thinking about the decision for a long time."

And then comes the hammer blow aimed directly at President Bartomeu: "I told the president and, well, 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 did not keep his word.”

Messi believed he was free to leave

Messi says he thought he was free to leave because, "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."

Barcelona president Bartomeu insisted Messi cannot leave without paying the €700 million buy-out clause, because Messi failed to end his contract by June 10. Messi says that with Barcelona refusing to back down he would need to take them to court to force his way out of the club, something he is not willing to do.

"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. Barça gave me everything and I gave it everything. I know that it never crossed my mind to take Barça to court.”

The infamous burofax from Messi to Barcelona

Messi also discussed the now-famous burofax, which he sent to the club to say he was terminating his contract. A burofax is not a fax, but a registered communication which proves the recipient got it and its contents.

Many felt such a legalistic communication was a cold way to try and end such a beautiful, long relationship. Messi however explains in the interview that it was simply to make things official.

“Sending the burofax was making it official that I wanted to go and that I was free and the optional year – I was not going to use it and I wanted to go. It was not to make a mess, or to go against the club, but the way to make it official because my decision had been made. If I don't send the burofax, it's like nothing happens, I have the optional year I had to have continued all year."

The problem for Messi was that he came up against the 10 June clause in his contract: "What they say is that I did not say it before June 10 – but I repeat, we were in the middle of all the competitions and it was not the moment. But apart from that, the president always told me 'when the season is over, you decide if you stay or leave', he never set a date, and well, it was simply to make it official that I wouldn't continue, but not to start a fight because I didn't want to fight against the club."