Lionel Messi is now 90% certain to remain a Barcelona player for another season after performing a dramatic U-turn.
The club’s talismanic captain gave note of his intention to quit Camp Nou last month via fax. Messi’s dissatisfaction stems from his resentment towards a board, led by president Josep Bartomeu, which has presided over a disastrous transfer policy.
A dismal season, which culminated in an historic 8-2 Champions League quarter final defeat against Bayern Munich, triggered Messi into taking what appeared to be decisive action.
Manchester City had emerged as the frontrunners to sign the 33-year-old and Messi was even reported to have told his former mentor, Pep Guardiola, that he was keen on joining the Premier League giants.
According to TyC Sports in Messi’s native Argentina, however, the six-times Ballon d’Or winner has had a significant change of heart.
His father and agent, Jorge, held talks with Bartomeu earlier this week and the under-fire president underlined his club’s stance and refusal to countenance a sale, let alone allow him to walk away for nothing.
According to The Times, meanwhile, Messi’s decision to rethink his future is based on a £63million loyalty bonus he is due should he stay until the end of his current contract which expires at the end of the upcoming season.
With Barcelona refusing to enter into negotiations with any interested party, a bitter legal battle would likely ensue should Messi attempt to force an exit on the basis that his £630million release clause has expired.
Messi’s camp have insisted he should be permitted to leave on a free but a potential lengthy court battle appeals to neither party .
When asked if Messi was considering the option of staying put until 2021, his father did not rule out the possibility, telling reporters: ‘I don’t know.’
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