Lionel Messi has confirmed that he will be staying with Barcelona for the 2020-21 campaign.
The 33-year-old signalled his intent to leave the club after the protracted 2019-20 season ended in both domestic and European disappointment for the Catalan outfit.
Messi’s contract with the side has a clause which allows him to unilaterally leave on a free transfer at the end of each season if he enacts it by a certain date, however the waters were muddied by the coronavirus pandemic extending the date that the season was due to end.
The Argentine’s camp argued that as the end date of the season changed, so should the date of the expiry clause, whereas Barcelona insisted that the original expiry date of June 10 remained valid.
Both sides look destined for a lengthy court battle but now Messi has backed down and agreed to spend another year with the Spanish giants, albeit reluctantly.
“I thought and was sure that I was free to leave, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not,” Messi said in an exclusive interview with Goal.
“Now 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 La Liga 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 (£624m/$823m) clause, and that this is impossible.”