Messi announced that he was staying at Barcelona on Friday, but he is far from happy about the situation as he sees out the final year of his contract just to avoid taking legal action against the club he loves.
The 33-year-old had a clause in his contract allowing him to leave at the end of the season on a free transfer, but after telling Bartomeu that he was be taking up that option throught the year, the president has since made it impossible for Messi to leave.
The relationship between the two seems beyond repair, as Messi described what he thought was his final year at the club and the logic behind him wanting to leave – before Bartomeu blocked him.
“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.
“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.”
Messi on damaging Champions League defeats
Messi insisted it was not the 8-2 by Champions League loss against Bayern Munich that made him want to leave, more the consistent failings in that competition including losses at Roma and Liverpool in the previous two years.
“It did not come because of the Champions League result against Bayern, no – I had been thinking about the decision for a long time,” he added.
“But I looked further afield and I want to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League. You can win or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete.
“At least compete for it and let us not fall apart in Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon. All that led me to think about that decision that I wanted to carry out.”
Messi on the burofax
Messi was questioned by some for sending a fax to tell the club of his desire to leave – with critics saying it was a cold way to treat the club he’d spent two decades with.
Messi, though, explains why he had to send it.
“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.
“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 says his son cried when he found out about the decision to leave, but he says it was something he felt he had to do as he chases more glory in the twilight of his career.
“When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” Messi revealed.
“The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools.
“Mateo is still little and he doesn’t realise what it means to go somewhere else and make your life a few years elsewhere.
“Thiago, he is older. He heard something on TV and found out something and asked. I didn’t want him to know anything about being forced to leave, to have to live in a new school, or make new friends.
“He cried to me and said ‘let’s not go’. I repeat that it was hard, really. It was understandable. It happened to me. It is very difficult to make a decision.
“I love Barcelona and I’m not going to find a better place than here anywhere. Still, I have the right to decide. I was going to look for new goals and new challenges. And tomorrow I could go back, because here in Barcelona I have everything.
“My son, my family, they grew up here and are from here. There was nothing wrong with wanting to leave. I needed it, the club needed it and it was good for everyone.
“My wife, with all the pain of her soul, supported and accompanied me.”