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Lionel Messi says he is staying at Barcelona

Lionel Messi has said he is staying at Barcelona.

The Argentinian forward, regarded by many as the best footballer of all time, had expressed a desire to leave the Spanish club in recent days.

The 33-year-old has been with the Catalan side since he was 13 but handed in a shock transfer request last week.

He told on Friday he had reversed the decision because “he could never go to court against Barca” after a row broke out over his contract.

Messi told the football news site: “I thought and was sure that I was free to leave, 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 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.”

Messi’s entourage had said the footballer could leave the club on a free, but both Barcelona and the Spanish top division La Liga were adamant his €700m release clause was still valid.

There were question marks over whether the row would end up in court.

Messi added in his Goal interview: “There was another way (to leave) and it was to 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. Barca gave me everything and I gave it everything.

“I know that it never crossed my mind to take Barca to court.”

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