Lionel Messi has confirmed he will stay at Barcelona, but is unhappy with how the club is being run.
Messi notified Barcelona of his intention to leave in August after their exit from the Champions League.
It opened up a potential opportunity for Manchester City, who could have reunited him with Pep Guardiola.
However, Messi and his agent-father Jorge disagreed with his current club about the manner in which he could leave. They argued that a clause in his contract allowed him to leave for free; Barcelona and La Liga denied this.
That would have made the financial implications of a deal extremely difficult. Even a club as rich as Man City or PSG would have struggled to afford him.
Any interested party would have had to pay his €700m release clause, despite Jorge Messi insisting it was not valid.
Hence, the transfer saga could have ended up in court – something Messi wanted to avoid.
Therefore, the six-time Ballon D’Or winner has announced he will be playing at Camp Nou next season.
“I would never go to trial against the club of my life, that’s why I’m going to stay at Barcelona,” Messi told Goal.
“I told the club, especially the president, that I wanted to go. I’ve been telling him all year. I believed it was time to step aside.
“I believed that the club needed more young people, new people and I thought my time in Barcelona was over.
“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.”
Messi explains transfer request
Messi then explained why he took the surprise measure of telling the club he wanted to leave via a burofax.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“If I don’t send the burofax, it’s like nothing happens, I have the optional year I had to have continued all year.
“What they say is that I did not say it before June 10 – but I repeat, we were in the middle of all the competitions and it was not the moment.
“But apart from that, the president always told me ‘when the season is over, you decide if you stay or leave’, he never set a date, and well, it was simply to make it official that I wouldn’t continue, but not to start a fight because I didn’t want to fight against the club.”
Messi claims Barca do not have a project
The 33-year-old continued by adding that the club are lacking direction under their current leadership.
Barcelona have suffered humiliating defeats in each of the last three editions of the Champions League. And club president Josep Maria Bartomeu is under a lot of pressure.
However, Messi vowed to do his best to try and ensure they return to winning ways.
“I always said I wanted to end my career here and I always said that I wanted to stay here. Also, I wanted a winning project and to be able to win titles with the club to continue expanding the legend of Barcelona.
“The truth is there has been no project or nothing for a long time.
“They (the club) juggle and they’re plugging holes as time go by. As I said before, I always thought about the well-being of my family and the club.
“I am going to continue at Barça and my attitude is not going to change no matter how much I wanted to go. 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.”