Lionel Messi informed his club Barcelona, via fax, that he wanted to leave.
In an exclusive interview with Goal, Messi finally broke his silence about why he sent the fax, and his eventual decision to stay at the club.
'I would never go to court against Barca'
In the interview, Messi said that he was staying because the president of the club, Josep Maria Bartomeu, insisted that he had to pay 700 million euro (S$1.13 billion) if he wanted to leave.
Messi said that he was consistently told by Bartomeu that he could decide at the end of the season if he wanted to stay or go.
The deadline — according to the club — for Messi to inform them of his decision was June 10.
However, disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic meant that Barcelona was still competing at that time, causing ambiguity about the official "end of the season".
Messi said: "The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not. 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."
Messi said that if he really wanted to leave, he could either pay the 700 million euro, or he could 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 in Barcelona," added Messi.
He said that he had felt a lot of pain from the public questioning his commitment to Barcelona
He also added that his family did not take the idea of having to move away from Barcelona well.
He said: "When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama. The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools and leave their friends."
Why he wanted to leave
Messi explained that it took him a while to come out and explain his decision because the defeat against Bayern Munich was very hard. Barcelona lost to Bayern 8-2, knocking them out of the Champions League.
"We knew Bayern Munich were a very difficult opponent, but not that we were going to end that way, giving such a poor image for the city and the club of Barcelona," said Messi.
Messi said that he had been telling Bartomeu all year that it was time for him seek new goals and new directions in his career, and that the club needed new players and ideas.
He said: "I felt very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here."
However, Messi said that he had not been feeling happy playing with the club recently.
"I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily," said Messi.
He finally decided to send a fax to make his decision official, because the president of the club was not giving him proper answers.
His future with Barca
Despite the drama, Messi said that he is still committed to the team.
He said: "I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I wanted to go."
"I always want the best for the club, for the dressing room and for myself," Messi added.
Watch the full interview here:
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Top image from Goal via YouTube.