Lionel Messi has revealed the reasons at the heart of his desire to leave Barcelona, and the key factor that led him to stay.
Speaking in an interview with Goal, the 33-year-old club legend said that it was not a recent decision to ask to leave, and it was something he had been considering for a year.
Below are some of the best quotes from his extraordinary interview...
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'THE PRESIDENT DID NOT KEEP HIS WORD'
Messi claimed club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was aware of his decision to leave for all of 2020.
“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.”
'THIS IS THE REASON...'
While Messi has told the press he is staying – the most important news for fans and perhaps for Bartomeu himself – he has made it clear that he is doing so because he has not been allowed to leave, not because of a change of heart.
“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) clause, and that this is impossible."
'MY ATTITUDE WILL NOT CHANGE'
Messi nevertheless assured the club that he would remain fully committed to the team on the pitch, despite his misgivings.
“I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go," he confirmed.
"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."
'NOW I DON'T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN'
There was, however, a word of warning for the club, given Messi will certainly be free to leave at the end of his contract in 2021.
"Actually, now I don't know what will happen. There is a new coach and new ideas," he said of new boss Ronald Koeman.
“That's good, but then we have to see how the team responds and whether or not it will give us to compete at the top level. What I can say is that I'm staying and I'm going to give my best for Barcelona.”