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Lionel Messi Wants to Stay at Barcelona; Discusses Release Clause, More

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2020

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 15: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Getafe CF at Camp Nou on February 15, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alejandro/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has played down rumours he could leave the club this summer, saying his plan is to stay at the Camp Nou.

Messi's future has been a hot topic since a public row with club director Eric Abidal earlier in February. Per The Independent's Mark Critchley, his contract contains a clause allowing him to terminate it for free, and Manchester City were keeping an eye on proceedings.

But in an interview with Mundo Deportivo (h/t The Spanish Football Podcast), Messi said he has no intention of leaving Catalonia and that he has never considered an exit:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

On his clause: "Really I've always had that decision, not just because of the clause. A lot of times I've had chances to leave, a lot of clubs were interested and even ready to pay my clause but I never considered going and not now either. If the club want me, there's no problem"

He also touched on the Abidal controversy, saying he felt attacked:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

"It annoyed me that someone at the club would put the players in the middle of a sacking like that, it seemed crazy to me. It's him who takes decisions and has to take responsibility. That's why I spoke out. I couldn't allow the sporting director to attack me in that way."

Per RAC 1 (h/t Juan Jimenez of AS), Abidal said certain players didn't train hard enough under former manager Ernesto Valverde. That led to a response from Messi on social media, calling on the director to name them.

The public spat quickly led to transfer rumours involving the likes of City and Juventus. City boss Pep Guardiola told reporters he didn't want the 32-year-old to leave his current club, per Goal's Chris Burton, and Bianconeri manager Maurizio Sarri side-stepped the question:

Goal @goal

Could we see Lionel Messi join Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus? 🤔 https://t.co/lYkakizavc

Messi has spent his entire professional career at the Camp Nou, winning a staggering 10 La Liga titles. He has also won the Copa del Rey six times and led Barcelona to four UEFA Champions League titles.

He's the all-time top scorer for the Blaugrana by some distance, scoring 622 official goals. With the exception of the 2015-16 campaign, he has led Barcelona in scoring in La Liga in every season since 2010.

The 2019-20 season has been another strong one for Messi, who has scored 14 goals and added 12 assists in 19 La Liga appearances. Things have been rocky for the club at times, however, with a coaching change in January and underperformance.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 15: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Getafe CF at Camp Nou on February 15, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alejandro/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
DeFodi Images/Getty Images

The Argentinian praised Valverde in his interview, saying the players were "more to blame" and that it's a shame how things ended for him at the Camp Nou.

He also touched on the latest controversy involving president Josep Maria Bartomeu, which is being dubbed Barcagate. Bartomeu allegedly hired a firm to improve his image at the cost of others at the club.

Messi told Mundo  (h/t Sportthe situation is a strange one and that he will wait to see what evidence surfaces before commenting in detail.

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