Koeman ready to keep Messi
  • Reverses exit moves

  • Renews Catalans’ commitment


Despite his controversial attempt to force an exit from FC Barcelona this summer, Lionel Messi says his dedication and commitment to the Spanish giants will not change moving forward.

The Six-time Ballon d’Or winner, who will be staying at Camp Nou for another season, also revealed a long-standing disagreement with the Club President, Josep Maria Bartomeu

Breaking his silence on the exit saga, Messi expressed disappointment that Bartomeu failed to keep his word regarding his future at Camp Nou and the overall direction of the Liga giants.

The Argentine Captain shook the football world at the end of August when he dropped a major bombshell on Barca by demanding to leave and activating a clause in his contract that he believed would permit him to exit the Catalan club for free.

A dramatic saga ensued, as he refused to engage with Club’s commitments, including medical tests or training and the rumour mill was sent into overdrive with speculation about where the 33-year-old could play next.

However, confirming his decision to remain in Camp Nou for now, the World’s best player also revealed that there are so many “fake people” in his orbit

In reversing the course and committing his future to Barcelona, after looking to activate a clause that would allow him to opt out of his contract, the 33-year-old admitted he felt frustrated after a season that saw Barcelona fail to win a single trophy, and finished with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final.

Messi being interviewed by Goal

Though Messi didn’t deny trying to leave a club he joined 20 years ago, he insisted that his attitude and commitment to the cause wouldn’t change now that he is staying put.

“I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go,” Messi told Goal. “I will do my best.

“I always want to win, I’m competitive and I don’t like to lose anything. I always want the best for the club, for the dressing room and for myself.”

Barcelona’s Champions League drought has now reached five seasons, with Ronald Koeman brought in to try and win Europe’s biggest club prize.

“I said it at the time that we were not given the support to win the Champions League,” the Argentine added. “Actually, now I don’t know what will happen. 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 give us to compete at the top level. What I can say is that I’m staying and I’m going to give my best for Barcelona.”

Speaking on his Barcelona heartbreak, Messi admitted that he was hurt by those questioning his commitment to a club he has called home for 20 years, though he was strengthened by the support of those closest to him.

“I didn’t feel alone,” the six-time Ballon d’Or winner said. “Not alone. There are those who have always been by my side. That is enough for me and strengthens me.

“But I did feel hurt by things that I heard from people, from journalists, from people questioning my commitment to Barcelona and saying things that I think I didn’t deserve. It also helped me to see the truth in people.

“This world of football is very difficult and there are many fake people. This happening has helped me to recognise many fake people. It hurt me when my love for this club was questioned. No matter how much I go or stay, my love for Barca will never change.”

The possibility of an ugly legal saga had loomed large after Messi officially declared his intention to leave the Catalan capital last week.

Amid the exit saga, Barca appeared intent on challenging Messi’s assertion that he could unilaterally opt out of his deal, saying the clause expired in June.

On their part, Messi’s legal team was set to argue that the clause was in place through the end of the season, which had been extended due to the coronavirus break.

But with things simmering now, the Argentine great has emphatically denied he was looking to drag his saga out in court.

“It has hurt me a lot that things are published against me and above all, that false things are published,” Messi said. “Or that they came to think that I could go to trial against Barca in order to benefit myself.

“I would never do such a thing. I repeat, I wanted to go and it was entirely my right, because the contract said that I could be released. And it is not, ‘I’m leaving and that’s it’. I was leaving and it cost me a lot.

“I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily. Lately I have not found happiness within the club.”

Messi further admitted that there has been chances for him to leave Barca in the past, but elected to continued with the club while continually turning down more lucrative offers from other sides.

“I always put the club before anything else. I had the possibility of leaving Barca many times,” Messi said.

“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.”

With his commitment to the cause at Camp Nou now confirmed, Messi is going forward with renewed purpose and dedication — mindful that there are many others going through much more difficult times than he has in recent weeks.

“As usual, I am going to give my best, we will do my best to fight for all the objectives and hopefully I can dedicate myself to the people who have had a bad time,” Messi said.

“I had a bad time this year, but it is hypocritical to say that if you compare it with people who have really had a bad time with the coronavirus, with people who have lost relatives and who have lost many things.

“Hopefully I can give my best and dedicate victories to all those people who accompany us and their families, to be able to dedicate the best to those people who are having a bad time and that we can overcome once and for all we can overcome this virus and return to normality.”

On his beef with Club President Bartomeu, Messi said; “I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I’ve been telling him that all year. I believed it was time to step aside.”

“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.

“It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new ambitions.

“It did not come because of the Champions League result against Bayern, 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.”

The act of sending the infamous burofax to the club outlining his position became something of an embarrassment for figures around the club, with former Barca vice-president Jordi Mestre notably declaring “the best player in history does not leave with a burofax!”

However Messi has insisted that it was not done with the intention of creating a bitter dispute, but to make his position – that he wanted to leave – official. Indeed, the Argentine is of the belief that it would simply have been business as usual had he not taken that step.

“Throughout the year I had been telling the president that I wanted to leave, that the time had come to seek new goals and new directions in my career,” explained Messi. “He told me all the time: ‘We’ll talk, not now, this and that’, but nothing. The president did not give me a clue at what he was really saying.

Lionel Messi and President, Josep Maria Bartomeu

“Sending the burofax was making it official that I wanted to go and that I was free and the optional year – I was not going to use it and I wanted to go.

“It was not to make a mess, or to go against the club, but the way to make it official because my decision had been made.”

He added: “If I don’t send the burofax, it’s like nothing happens, I have the optional year I had to have continued all year.” – With Goal.com reports

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