Lionel Messi says he will remain at Barcelona next season after performing a shock U-turn on his future.
Messi says he never considered taking the matter to trial in order to force an exit from Barcelona, where he has spent the entirety of his professional career.
“I thought and was sure that I was free to leave, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not,” Messi told Goal.
“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.
“And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club. Now I am going to continue in the club because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the €700m (£624m) clause, and that this is impossible.”
“There was another way and it was to go to trial,” he added. “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.
“Barca gave me everything and I gave it everything. I know that it never crossed my mind to take Barca to court.”
Messi’s father and agent Jorge wrote to La Liga on Friday insisting the player is contractually allowed to leave Barcelona for free in the current transfer window.
La Liga responded with a statement shortly after Messi’s declaration, reiterating its stance that the €700m release clause needs to be paid in full if the 33-year-old is to be allowed to leave the club.
Messi had informed the club of his desire to leave via an official note last week, and did not turn up for the team’s first five days of pre-season training under new boss Ronald Koeman.
Lionel Messi’s transfer row: A timeline
Tuesday, August 25 – Messi shocks the world of football by informing Barcelona he wants to activate a release clause in his contract and leave the club this summer. Barcelona say the clause expired 10 days after the original date of the Champions League final.
Wednesday, August 26 – Barcelona sporting director Ramon Planes says the club and new boss Ronald Koeman “count on Messi for the future” and added, “We are not contemplating any kind of departure”.
Thursday, August 27 – Sky Sports News is told that both Lionel Messi and Man City boss Pep Guardiola want to renew their partnership in Manchester. PSG and Inter Milan are reported to be preparing offers.
Friday, August 28 – Messi requests a personal meeting with the Barcelona board to find a solution to his transfer request.
Sunday, August 30 – In what appears to be a big blow to Messi’s hopes of an exit, La Liga state his 700m Euro release fee will have to be paid if he is to leave the Nou Camp this summer. Messi had earlier that day failed to report for coronavirus testing at Barcelona’s training complex.
Monday, August 31 – Messi misses the first day of Barcelona’s pre-season training and reportedly no longer considers himself a Barcelona player.
Tuesday, September 1 – Barcelona presidential hopeful Victor Font says it is unlikely Messi will stay at the club and “the focus should be on making the transition as smooth as possible.”
Wednesday, September 2 – Messi’s father, Jorge, who also acts as his agent, arrives in Barcelona and tells a Spanish TV programme it is “difficult” for his son to stay at Barcelona. He held initial talks with Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Thursday, September 3 – Talks between Messi’s father and Bartomeu resume as Messi continues to skip training.
Friday, September 4 – Jorge Messi releases a statement claiming Barcelona’s €700m release clause “is not applicable at all”. La Liga issues another statement refuting this. Sky Sports