Lionel Messi to stay with Barcelona, at least for now

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Soccer superstar Lionel Messi was prepared to wave bye-bye to his longtime Barcelona club but will be staying through the 2020-21 season.

Since the days of La Masia, Lionel Messi, one of the best to ever play the game of soccer, has only known Barcelona. From his debut in 2004 for the first team, Messi has been a vital part of Barcelona history. So, when he handed in his transfer request this summer after an 8-2 thrashing from Bayern Munchen in the Champions league quarter final, the soccer community was shocked. 

Year after year there were rumors in the soccer world that Messi wanted to leave his career-long club Barcelona, but year after year the rumors turned out to be just that: rumors.

This year, however, it was different, and it was confirmed by the very credible Brazilian News Reporter Marcelo Bechler that Messi wanted out of Barcelona immediately, and that he had already considered himself a free agent and no longer part of the team.

Olympic Heights senior and soccer fan Matheus Leoncini said of Messis’s request, “It was something already expected. Barcelona’s president is destroying the club’s prestige and it’s completely understandable that Messi wants to leave and play the sport that he loves with new challenges.”

Messi’s contract with Barcelona, which runs through the 20-21season, has a 700 million Euro release clause, which means that if any other team wanted to activate that release clause and enter into immediate contract talks with Messi, it could do so. Messi’s contract also had a clause indicating that the Argentinian could leave at the end of any season without financial penalty if he so desired.

The main issue with Messi’s contract clause was that since the coronavirus lockdown had a profound impact on all soccer seasons around the world, Barcelona’s club directors and  president had determined that the clause in his contract stating that he could leave at will at the end of any given season was invalid because the season was supposed to end around July 10. Since the season was put on hold and then extended after the league was cleared to restart around that July 10 date, Barcelona was still in competition, and Messi had no idea that the team was not going to let him leave.

This led to a long-running dispute between Messi’s lawyers and the club’s lawyers, which ultimately led to Messi staying with the club through the final year of his contract, and the requirement that any club he left for would have to pay Barcelona the 700 million Euro release clause. 

“I think it is totally unfair that Barcelona wants to keep Messi in this way instead of letting him go,” OH junior Gabriel Da Silva said. “He still needs to go after his personal goals considering he is already 33 and only has a few good years left on him.” 

During all this chaos, there was one club that had the strongest chance of luring Messi away from Barcelona. Only four-time premier league champions Manchester City had the bankroll to afford the Argentinian’s outrageous one million Euro per week contract.

Josep Guardiola, Lionel Messi’s former manager at Barcelona  – where together they won countless titles – was the main reason Messi was tempted to leave Barcelona for the English club. Reuniting with his former boss and Argentinian teammate Sergio Aguero would’ve been Messi’s dream scenario come true. and it was reported that Messi and the club had already agreed on a contract.

The soccer community was in uproar against how the Catalan giants were treating their star player who had given Barcelona everything. The feeling was that Messi had devoted his entire career to them for almost two decades. 

After the club released a statement stating that Messi would not be leaving the club, Messi decided to break his silence on the situation with an interview on the YouTube channel “Goal.” SInce the video’s release on Sept. 4, it has raked in over 3.8 million views and over 15,000 comments by people outraged at how Messi was and is being treated by Barcelona.

In the 18-minute interview, Messi told the world how he felt about the situation, stating, “The president [Josep Bartomeu] 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 also claimed that within the club “there has been no project or anything for a long time; they juggle and cover holes as things go by.” Hearing Messi talk so negatively about the club he adored was a shock to many and showed that this time he really intended to leave. 

Messi’s only option to force his release from Barcelona would be to take the club to court. Addressing that option in the “Goal” interview, Messi said, “I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club I love, which gave me everything since I arrived.” 

The soccer world will have to wait one more year to see if Messi finally leaves Barcelona. For now, he claims that he will stay for the upcoming season and will once again give his all on the pitch for the team, even though his desire to leave was so concrete in his heart.

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