Lionel Messi has spoken; Barcelona's talisman and the captain is staying with the Blaugrana, announcing his U-turn in an explosive interview. (More Football News)
Messi confirmed via Goal Spain that he has decided to stay at Camp Nou despite previously informing the club of his decision to leave.
Messi had earlier indicated he wanted to trigger a clause in his contract that would allow him to unilaterally terminate his deal at the end of the 2019-20 season.
But the season's extension meant the clause had expired, with LaLiga siding with Barca.
With no club - despite reported interest from Manchester City - able to pay his €700million release clause, Messi has opted to stay, doing so in a wide-ranging interview in which he pulled no punches.
Below are the 10 key quotes from his chat with Goal.
THE KEY QUOTES
Time to step aside
"I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I've been telling him that all year. 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."
Bartomeu "did not keep his word"
"It [the decision to leave] did not come because of the Champions League result against Bayern Munich. No, I had been thinking about the decision for a long time. 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."
"Every year I could have left and earned more money than at Barcelona. I always said that this was my home and it was what I felt and feel. To decide there was somewhere better than here was difficult. I felt that I needed a change and new goals, new things."
ALSO READ: Lionel Messi Interview In Full
No project, no direction
"The truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by. As I said before, I always thought about the welfare of my family and the club."
634 - Lionel Messi is the @FCBarcelona's Top Scorer ever (634 goals) & only Xavi Hernández (767 games) has played more games than the Argentinian (731) for Barça in all competitions. Institution pic.twitter.com/xZ2uUsjTya— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 25, 2020
Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon
"I looked further afield, I want to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League. You can win or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete. At least compete for it and let us not fall apart in Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon. All that led me to think about the decision that I wanted to carry out."
Paying the clause? Impossible
"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 LaLiga 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 €700 million clause, and that this is impossible."
A trial? No chance
"There was another way and it was to go to trial. 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."
No happiness in Barcelona
"I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily. Lately I have not found happiness within the club. I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go. I will do my best."
A new era?
"There is a new coach and new ideas. That's good, but then we have to see how the team responds and whether or not it will compete at the top level. What I can say is that I'm staying and I'm going to give my best for Barcelona."
"I love Barcelona and I'm not going to find a better place than here anywhere. Still I have the right to decide. I was going to look for new goals and new challenges. And tomorrow I could go back, because here in Barcelona I have everything."