LIONEL Messi will not be leaving Barcelona this summer after all after a legal minefield has given the football legend no choice but to remain with the red and blues.

In an exclusive interview with Goal yesterday, the 33-year-old opened up about the legal ramifications of his departure and explained in depth the reasons behind his decision.

In the interview, far from changing his mind, Messi told of the club’s failure to uphold their word on his contract, leaving him no choice but to remain at the club.

Messi explained that he was unwilling to take the case to court after the club’s legal team told the striker that he had missed the deadline to submit his case to break his contract and leave. 

He also blamed specifically, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu for going back on his word to allow him to leave in the summer after months of unrest.

“I told the club that I wanted to go. I had been telling him that all year,” he said. “The club needed new, younger players and my time was over.”

Messi has made it clear over recent months that he is unhappy of the club’s direction and has told of a ‘stale’ atmosphere that has been impossible to work within.

The Argentinian claims that he officially told Bartomeu that he wanted to leave on August 25, citing a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave the club for free at the end of every season.

He immediately received a response informing him that the club was not prepared to sell the player, and that the June 10 deadline to apply for a transfer had passed. 

Messi argued that the date had to be extended due to the COVID-19 delays in the La Liga championship, but Barcelona dug its heels in.

According to Messi, the only way for him to physically leave the club will be to go to court or for any interested teams to pay the €700 million buyout clause.

Premier League side Manchester City showed serious interest in Messi, however they were not willing to bend the rules with an International Transfer Certificate issued by FIFA.

Messi told of the internal struggle of his decision to leave the club that he had played for since he was 13.

“I wanted to go and I was totally within my rights because the contract said I could leave for free. It wasn’t just: ‘I’m going.’ It was very hard to go. I wanted my final years of football to be happy and I didn’t find happiness at the club.”

For now, Messi remains at the Camp Nou but his future remains uncertain at the La Liga runner-ups.

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