Lionel Messi ‘staying at Barcelona’ as star avoids prospect of legal wrangle.
The Barca captain had been hoping to leave the club on a free transfer this summer, with Manchester City leading the chase for his services as they sought to reunite him with his former manager Pep Guardiola.
Messi has become disillusioned with life in Catalonia after Barca’s shambolic 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League left them looking as far away from returning to the top level of European football as they have been since last winning Europe’s biggest prize in 2015.
Manager Quique Setien left shortly after that loss, and has been replaced by Ronald Koeman.
Messi’s father Jorge has been holding talks with Barca chiefs in a bid to thrash out his son’s future, with the Messi camp holding onto the hope that they could exploit the fact that a €700m buyout clause in the star’s contract no longer existed.
Jorge Messi’s statement to La Liga and Barca outlining the apparent expiration of the clause was published on Friday, only for La Liga to issue a swift response denying this and stating that the clause was still at play.
“The €700m release clause exists and is absolutely valid,” said the league in a statement.
“Their interpretation of the contract is decontextualised and far from the literality of the same.”
This has forced Messi and his camp to back down from their transfer threat according to TyC Sports in Argentina, who were one of the first outlets to break that Messi could leave this summer.
They add that Messi does not want to leave “in the middle of a legal scandal” that could be seen as damaging to his legacy at the Nou Camp.