After two weeks of rife speculation about his departure from his boyhood club, FC Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi has made a sensational U-turn and announced that he'll stay with the Blaugrana for the upcoming season.
The news comes as a massive relief for Barcelona fans as well as the club's under-fire president Josep Bartomeu, who faced the prospect of losing the club icon 16 years after his debut for them.
Messi had reportedly had agreed on personal terms with Manchester City and was keen on reuniting with former Barcelona and current City manager Pep Guardiola. However, the four-time Premier League champions were hopeful that the Argentine could trigger a release clause that would allow him to leave the club for free despite Barcelona being adamant that the deadline to trigger said clause was on June 30.
The club have made it known that Messi will be allowed to leave them only if another team deposited Messi's €700m release clause, which his father and agent Jorge Messi have categorically denied the existence of.
Regardless, Messi claims Bartomeu went back on his word, "Bartomeu told me that the only way to leave was to pay the €700m clause - that's impossible. But at the end of the season, the same Bartomeu said it was 'my decision'...he didn't keep his promise."
Messi's decision to stay puts all speculation to rest of his departure only temporarily, as the 33-year-old has only one year left on his current deal with Barcelona making his long-term future with the club unclear.
As the press conference rolled on, Messi had even more choice soundbites to spare, as he made it explicitly clear that he's all but being held captive at a club that he feels is being severely mismanaged, "I wasn't happy and I wanted to leave. I have not been allowed this in any way and I will STAY at the club so as not to get into a legal dispute. The management of the club led by Bartomeu is a disaster."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / FC Barcelona