Lionel Messi staying at Barcelona: After three weeks of nonstop speculation and posturing from all involved parties, Messi announced on Friday that he will remain at Barcelona for the 2020-21 season after the club refused to either release him from his contract or sell him.
[ MORE: Messi family releases statement insisting exit clause still valid ]
He is, however, not ending his fight without one or two final shots at Barcelona.
Lionel Messi to Goal: "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 Bartomeu is a disaster". 🚨 #FCB #Messi #Barcelona
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 4, 2020
“I told the club and the president that I wanted to go. I’ve been telling him all year.”
“I thought my time in Barcelona was over, sadly. I always wanted to finish my career here.”
“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 end up keeping his word.”
While Messi’s desire was ultimately to leave the club, he wanted no part of dragging Barcelona into a court battle.
It is presently unknown whether Messi is willing to enter into negotiations for a new contract, with his current deal set to expire next summer, or if he fully intends to let it expire and leave on a free transfer — sans saga — at that time.
Messi’s father, Jorge, released a statement earlier on Friday, reiterating his family’s stance that the exit clause in his son’s contract was still valid and they intended to exercise said clause. It would now appear that Messi and Co., knew they had little legal standing to force a move once Barcelona had resisted and refused.
[ MORE: Messi skips preseason; $833-million release clause must be paid ]
Messi will now, presumably, report for preseason and rejoin his teammates ahead of the new season which is scheduled to kick off in Spain next weekend.
With news of Lionel Messi staying at Barcelona now official, the next question is: have Barcelona done the right thing? If Messi is done after this season, the club will get nothing in exchange for the undisputed greatest player of all time. Given their current financial state and the general profile of the first-team squad, would Barca have been better off taking something like $100 million or $150 million to reinvest and begin rebuilding now to be in a much stronger place 10 months from now, rather than keeping a disgruntled superstar and only then starting over from page 1 with little or no money in the bank?