The 33-year-old rocked the football world with the revelation of his desire to leave the La Liga side where he has spent his entire professional career, and possible transfers to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were quickly reported.
Although the Argentine forward’s decision to stay means much will remain the same for Messi and his family over the next year – at least – he spoke to Goal about the emotional impact that the saga has had on his wife and children.
“When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” Messi said.
“The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools.
“[Son] Mateo is still little and he doesn’t realise what it means to go somewhere else and make your life a few years elsewhere. Thiago, he is older. He heard something on TV and found out something and asked.
“I didn’t want him to know anything about being forced to leave, to have to live in a new school, or make new friends. He cried to me and said: ‘Let’s not go.’ I repeat that it was hard, really.
“It was understandable. It happened to me. It is very difficult to make a decision. My son, my family, they grew up here and are from here.
“There was nothing wrong with wanting to leave. I needed it, the club needed it and it was good for everyone.
“My wife, with all the pain of her soul, supported and accompanied me.”
Messi also clarified why he had – reluctantly – decided to stay at the Catalan club where he is captain.
“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 10 June, when it turns out that on 10 June we were competing for La Liga in the middle of this awful coronavirus, and this disease altered all the season.
“And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club. Now I am going to continue in the club because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the €700million (£624m) [release] clause, and that this is impossible.”
It had been suggested that Messi and Barcelona could go to court over the matter of whether or not the the club’s record goalscorer could leave, but that was never an option, the forward said.
“There was another way and it was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, which gave me everything since I arrived.
“It is the club of my life, I have made my life here. Barca gave me everything and I gave it everything. I know that it never crossed my mind to take Barca to court.”
Messi had, however, begun to think about fresh challenges in other leagues.
“I love Barcelona and I’m not going to find a better place than here anywhere. Still, I have the right to decide. I was going to look for new goals and new challenges. And tomorrow I could go back, because here in Barcelona I have everything.
“I looked further afield and I want to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League. You can win or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete.
“At least compete for it and let us not fall apart in Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon. All that led me to think about that decision that I wanted to carry out.”
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