Lionel Messi says he will remain at Barcelona next season after performing a shock U-turn on his future.
Messi had believed that a clause in his contract would allow him to leave for free this transfer window, but Barcelona and La Liga insist that his €700m release clause would need to be paid in full.
“I thought and we were sure that I’d be a free agent,” Messi told Goal.
“The president always told me that I could decide to stay or go at the end of the season and they’re now clinging to the fact that I hadn’t said anything by June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 the La Liga season was still ongoing and we were in the midst of this virus and this illness that altered the whole fixture calendar.
“And that’s the reason why I’m staying on at the club. I’m now staying because the president told me that the only way I could leave was by paying the €700m release clause, which is impossible.”
Messi’s father and agent Jorge wrote to La Liga on Friday insisting his son is contractually allowed to leave Barcelona for free in the current transfer window.
However, La Liga responded with a statement shortly after Messi’s declaration – reiterating its stance that the €700m release clause remains valid.
Messi says he has never considered taking the matter to trial in order to force an exit from the club where he has spent the entirety of his professional career.
“I’d never take Barca to trial because it’s the club I love and that’s given me everything since I joined,” added Messi.