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After a dramatic saga over the past week, where he handed in a transfer request and refused to turn up to training, Messi announced he will be remaining at the Blaugrana but that doesn't mean he is happy with the situation.
The intense speculation regarding his future ramped up after the humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich yet Messi says that was not the key factor as to why he wanted to leave.
In fact, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner says he had been thinking about leaving the club for a long time and communicated his decision to Bartomeu on a number of occasions.
"I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I've been telling him that all year. I believed it was time to step aside," Messi told Goal in an exclusive, in-depth interview.
"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.
"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."
Messi sent an official burofax to the club announcing his wish to leave, with both he and Barcelona having different interpretations over whether the clause that allowed him to leave on a free after every season was active or not.
Explaining his decision to send the document, Messi added: "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 and Barcelona failed to win a trophy in the most recent campaign and he expressed his frustrations over the current predicament of the club, who he says often paper over the cracks.
Lionel Messi: "The truth is that there is no project at this club. They just plug holes as and when things happen. I would never go for a war against the club of my life. That's why I'm staying". :rotating_light: #FCB #Messi #Barcelona- Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 4, 2020
The 33-year old stated: "I always said I wanted to end here and I always said I wanted to stay here. That I wanted a winning project and to win titles with the club, to continue expanding the legend of Barcelona.
"And the truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by. As I said before, I always thought about the welfare of my family and the club."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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