Lionel Messi confirmed that he will stay at FC Barcelona this season to see out his four-year contract signed in 2017 but says his long term future at the club still remains in doubt.
The 33-year-old on Friday confirmed his U-turn yesterday, which comes 11 days after he rocked the footballing world by informing Barcelona that he wanted to leave the club he first joined 20 years ago.
Although Messi will remain at the Camp Nou until he can leave as a free agent, fans are worried after he explained how he felt in recent months. “I didn’t feel happy this last year at the club,” explained Messi in a TV interview. He went on to explain his reasons for not being happy at the club. He said, quote:
“I wasn’t happy and I wanted to leave. I have not been allowed this in any way and I will STAY at the club so as not to get into a legal dispute. The management of the club led by (president Josep Maria) Bartomeu is a disaster. I told the club, the president in particular, that I wanted to leave. They knew this since the start of the past season. I told them during all (of the) last 12 months. But I will stay here because I don’t want to start a legal war.”
By continuing at the Catalan club for the fourth and final year of his contract, the six-time world player of the year is in line for a €70m (£63m) loyalty bonus and will then be able to leave without a transfer fee.
“I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go,” he said. “I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily. Lately, I have not found happiness within the club.” In another turn of events, Bartomeu could yet respond with his resignation, having previously indicated he would step down if Messi publicly said he was the problem.