Lionel Messi has announced he will stay at Barcelona because the financial outlay required to make his desired exit a reality was "impossible".
The Argentina superstar sent shockwaves through Camp Nou last week when he announced he wanted to leave Barca in the wake of the humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
🚨 WORLD EXCLUSIVE 🚨— Goal (@goal) September 4, 2020
Lionel Messi will NOT be leaving Barcelona, we can confirm.
We sat down with the man himself to clear up a few things 🐐
Here's what he had to say: pic.twitter.com/NfnhGpZpXc
Messi was of the belief he could leave on a free transfer after activating a clause allowing him to terminate his contract at the end of the season, with Manchester City quickly emerging as favourites for his signature.
LaLiga disputed that claim, though, and insisted any potential suitor would have to negotiate with Barca or pay the €700million release clause in Messi's contract, with his option to leave for nothing having expired on June 10.
Messi's father and agent Jorge met Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu to discuss the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's future on Wednesday, prior to which he stated it would be "difficult" for his son to stay.
However, reports emerged after the meeting that a transfer for Messi would likely start a civil court case, while City were also said to be unable to do a deal if a transfer fee - even one significantly below the release clause - was involved.
Consequently, Messi confirmed on Friday he would not be moving because the option of a free transfer was no longer on the table.
He told Goal Spain: "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 LaLiga in the middle of this awful coronavirus, and this disease altered all the season.
"This is the reason why I am going to continue with the club.
"Now I am going to continue because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the €700m clause, and this is impossible."