Lionel Messi is staying put, meaning he will be able to add to his stunning goal haul for Barcelona.

Messi made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old and has gone on to become Barca's all-time leading scorer with 634 goals and 276 assists in 731 appearances in all competitions for the club.

His incredible feats in front of goal have helped him win 34 trophies with the Catalan club, but his days had looked numbered when he expressed a desire to leave following a trophy-less campaign in which the club suffered a humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich.

However, after running into issues over the release clause in his contract, the Argentina superstar confirmed a dramatic U-turn on Friday.

Despite all of the drama, Messi's goals have undoubtedly solidified his status as an all-time great and here is a look at a chronological top 10 from the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's collection.

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already seen one goal wrongly ruled out for offside – an audacious chip from the edge of the box – Messi's confidence was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's scooped pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete goalkeeper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for one of Europe's great clubs.

Malaga (H): March 22, 2009

Thierry Henry's favourite goal by Messi during their time playing together for Barca. Why not let the France great take up the story? "It defied logic what he did," Henry said in the 'Take the Ball, Pass the Ball' documentary. "There's a diagonal ball and he controls it on his chest. He runs full speed, then the first player goes and the second player is just behind. If he takes another step, that player will clear the ball." A shimmy of the body and deft touch later – in the blink of an eye – Messi stabbed into the top corner to conclude a moment of 100-miles-per-hour brilliance.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

Described by some as 'a defining goal' in his career, this strike against Zaragoza seemed to take him from very good into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in a goal that began when he won the ball from a tackle at halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling into the far corner, leaving coach Pep Guardiola speechless.

Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

At the height of the Clasico rivalry between Guardiola's Barca and Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, the two teams met four times in three different competitions in less than a month. The league meeting ended in a draw and Madrid won the Copa del Rey final, but Barca triumphed in the Champions League semi-final with a 3-1 aggregate win. The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, an ill-tempered affair to say the least, saw Messi make it 2-0 by bursting beyond four attempted challenges and slotting past Iker Casillas, all in the space of around five seconds.

Athletic Bilbao (A): April 27, 2013

Barca would regain their LaLiga title from Madrid but were in the midst of a Champions League semi-final shellacking from Bayern when they arrived at San Mames. A goal down in a match that would eventually finish 2-2, Messi received possession from Thiago Alcantara, twisted past Mikel San Jose, Carlos Gurpegui and Ander Herrera with minimal space in which to operate before nonchalantly side-footing home from just inside the penalty area.

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

Guardiola returned to Camp Nou with a Bayern side struggling with injury problems. They kept Barca at bay until the 77th minute of this Champions League semi-final first leg, when Messi finally struck. It was his second goal that earns a place in this list, though: collecting Ivan Rakitic's pass, a simple-looking shimmy left Jerome Boateng on his backside before he chipped Manuel Neuer with his weaker foot.

Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

El Clasico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Madrid the title, and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in stoppage time gave Jordi Alba the chance to square to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

Rarely has a hat-trick been completed in finer fashion. Messi's two goals had helped Barca to a 3-1 lead at the Benito Villamarin, before he passed to Rakitic, ran onto the return ball and sent a first-time chip over goalkeeper Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from just inside the box. It was a sublime effort that even had the home fans on the feet, applauding – something Messi himself admitted he had not experienced before.

Liverpool (H): May 1, 2019

Over the past few years, Messi has mastered the art of free-kick taking, with the skill being one of few to elude him in his younger days. Liverpool held their own for long periods at Camp Nou but goals from Luis Suarez and Messi gave the hosts breathing space. Jurgen Klopp's side then had to bow to greatness when, after being brought down by Fabinho, Barca's talisman swept an unstoppable 30-yard effort into the top corner. Barcelona would incredibly blow their 3-0 first-leg advantage, however, losing 4-0 at Anfield as Liverpool reached the Champions League final.

Atletico Madrid (A): December 1, 2019

It was goalless in the 86th minute at the Wanda Metropolitano when Messi collected the ball on the right flank, 10 yards inside the Atletico half. Those famous feet began to shuffle with purpose, and although Atletico knew what Messi had in mind, they were powerless to resist the execution of his plan. Messi surged on, playing the ball to Luis Suarez on the edge of the penalty area before taking the return pass and cracking a brilliant 20-yard shot into the bottom left corner of Jan Oblak's goal. A winner, and one of the highest class.

Lionel Messi is staying at Barcelona, but will he regret it?

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner last month announced his intention to leave his only senior club after a dismal 2019-20 season.

But with Barca insisting either Messi or any suitor would be required to pay his €700milllion release clause, their captain will instead remain at Camp Nou.

Messi is far from the first sports star to perform a U-turn when considering his future, though...
 

CRISTIANO RONALDO

Messi's great rival similarly tried to force a move in 2008, albeit Ronaldo was on a high after winning the Champions League with Manchester United.

The Portuguese had his heart set on a transfer to Real Madrid and made his desire clear as he publicly agreed with Sepp Blatter's claim keeping a player at a club against his will was like "modern slavery".

United would not budge, though, and Ronaldo stayed for another year and returned to the Champions League final, this time losing to Messi's Barca before finally getting his dream move to Madrid.

LUIS SUAREZ

Suarez, one of Messi's closest friends and a Barca team-mate, followed Ronaldo in attempting to leave a year before getting a big switch.

In 2013, the Liverpool forward announced his intention to depart Anfield, complaining of the media attention he received in England amid racism and biting scandals. Arsenal made a bid which appeared to activate a £40m release clause, but Liverpool insisted Suarez must stay.

As with Ronaldo, Suarez only stuck around for another season but was inspirational as the Reds came agonisingly close to the Premier League title. He then belatedly left to link up with Messi at Camp Nou.

KOBE BRYANT

Messi is not the first one-team man to come close to a move before backtracking. Lakers great Bryant, who would end his career with five titles in Los Angeles, briefly pushed for a trade in 2007.

Bryant had won three championships at that stage, but none since the final year of their three-peat in 2002, and openly discussed his frustration at the direction of the franchise while fuming at claims he was behind Shaquille O'Neal's exit from the team.

These issues came to a head as Bryant told the media he wanted a trade, but his U-turn proved far swifter than Messi's, quickly continuing his historic Lakers career.

BRETT FAVRE

Messi's return to the Barca fold has at least already proven more successful than Favre's attempted U-turn in 2008. After 17 seasons in the NFL, including 16 with the Green Bay Packers, the quarterback announced he was retiring.

But Favre then decided before the start of the new season he wanted to return to the Packers, who had by now been preparing with Aaron Rodgers – previously his understudy – in the role.

Barca may not have a ready-made Messi replacement, but Rodgers was more than capable of stepping up, meaning Favre had no job to return to. The veteran was instead sent to the New York Jets and failed to make the playoffs.

Lionel Messi's declaration that he will stay with Barcelona brought a remarkable transfer saga to an end on Friday.

Messi had intended to make use of a clause in his contract that would have enabled him to depart on a free transfer following the 2019-20 season.

The club disputed the validity of that clause after a season that ended later than planned amid the coronavirus pandemic, forcing Messi into a rethink.

And after much debate and rumour, Messi broke his silence to confirm he will remain at Camp Nou.

However, it is clear the Argentina superstar is far from happy with the way events have unfolded, and the timeline shows it has been quite the soap opera.

 

January 9 – Barcelona lose their Supercopa de Espana semi-final against Atletico Madrid 3-2 in Saudi Arabia.

January 13 – Despite the club being top of LaLiga, Barca confirm the dismissal of Ernesto Valverde. Quique Setien is appointed as head coach on a two-and-a-half-year contract, with a supposed return for Blaugrana legend Xavi failing to come to fruition.

February 3 – In an interview with Catlan publication Sport, sporting director Eric Abidal says the club had begun considering Valverde's future after the 0-0 draw with Real Madrid on December 18. He adds that he and his colleagues identified "many players weren't satisfied nor working hard and there was also an internal communication problem".

February 4 – Messi hits back at Abidal, calling on him to name individuals rather than tar every player with the same brush. Writing on Instagram and highlighting a section of Abidal's quotes, Messi says: "I honestly don't like to do these things, but I think everyone has to be responsible for their tasks and take care of their decisions. The players [are responsible for] what happens on the pitch and we are also the first to recognise when we are not playing well. Those responsible for the area of​​ sports management must also assume their responsibilities and especially for the decisions they make. Finally, I think that when talking about players we should give names, because if not we are all getting dirtied and feeding things that are said but aren't true." Furthermore, ESPN report Messi has been playing through a thigh problem for a number of weeks after the club failed to sign attacking reinforcements and let Carles Perez and Abel Ruiz leave after Luis Suarez was ruled out for four months.

March 1 – Barca suffer a disappointing 2-0 loss to Real Madrid in the second Clasico of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Zinedine Zidane's side going top of LaLiga as a result. However, the Catalan giants still managed to take a two-point advantage into the coronavirus lockdown.

March 30 – With a return of football yet to come onto the horizon, Messi confirms the players agreed to a 70 per cent pay cut. However, he makes it clear he is unhappy about pressure put on them. He posts on Instagram: "Much has been written and said about the Barcelona team in regards to the salaries of the players during this state of emergency. We want to clarify that our will has always been to take a cut in the salary we receive, because we fully understand that this is an exceptional situation and we are always the first ones to help the club when asked. Therefore, it does not surprise us that from within the club there were those who tried to put us under pressure to do something we always knew we would do. The agreement has been delayed for a few days because we were looking for a formula to help the club and its workers during these difficult times."

June 28 – During a 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo, Messi is accused of ignoring instructions from assistant coach Eder Sarabia during a drinks break. Setien denies the reports of a rift in the dressing room at a news conference the following day.

July 16 – Barca suffer a shock 2-1 home defeat against Osasuna, handing Madrid the league title. Messi makes his dissatisfaction known, saying that they must improve quickly or risk Champions League elimination in their last-16 second leg against Napoli. In a post-match interview, he told Movistar: "People are losing patience after defeats to Roma and Liverpool in recent years. We need a break and forget about this if we want to fight for the Champions League. We need to change a lot, otherwise we will also lose against Napoli. I already said before that playing like this we won't be able to fight for the Champions League and you see, we could not even fight for the league. We need to be self-critical."

August 14 – While they managed to get past Napoli despite an unconvincing performance, Barcelona are thrashed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final. It is their heaviest defeat in European competition and the most goals they have conceded in a single game since 1946.

August 17 – Setien is sacked by the club and presidential elections are brought forward to March as the club signals its intention to rebuild. It is reported that the majority of the first team are put for sale.

August 18 – Sporting director Abidal is relieved of his duties a day after informing Setien his time with the club was up.

August 19 – Barca icon Ronald Koeman is appointed head coach on a two-year contract. He said of Messi upon being presented to the media: "He is a Barcelona player. He has another year [on his contract]. I don't know if I have to convince him to stay."

August 20 – Messi meets Koeman to discuss his future with the club. RAC1 reports Messi told the new coach he is 'more outside the club than inside' and he had little faith in president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Koeman is alleged to have said to Messi: "The privileges in this squad are over, you had to do everything for the team. I'm going to be inflexible; you must only be thinking about the team."

August 22 – Tensions increase as Argentine publication Clarin claims Messi is furious that details of his meeting with Koeman were leaked to the media.

August 24 – Messi's close friend Suarez is one of four players - the others being Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti - supposedly told by Koeman they have no future at the club.

August 25 – Messi informs Barca he intends to leave the club, using a clause in his contract to exit on a free transfer, via burofax.

August 26 – Rumours abound over Messi's potential next destination, with Manchester City promptly emerging as favourites, a move that would signal a reunion with Pep Guardiola.

August 30 – LaLiga claims the €700million release clause in Messi's Barca contract remains valid and must be paid for his deal to be terminated unilaterally. On the same day, Messi fails to report for pre-season coronavirus testing.

September 2 – Presidential candidate Victor Font concedes his fear that it is too late to keep Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

September 3 – Messi's father Jorge reveals his son is considering the possibility of seeing out the final year of his Barcelona contract rather than forcing a move immediately.

September 4 – Messi confirms he will stay at Barcelona in an emotional interview, in which it is all too apparent his preference would have been to leave.

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.

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."

Messi is contracted to Barca until June next year and insisted his desire to leave was no snap decision after the Bayern game, having discussed the possibility of a transfer with Bartomeu throughout the season.

"The burofax was to make it official in some way," he explained. "Throughout the year I had been telling the president that I wanted to leave, that the time had come to seek new goals and new directions in my career.

"He told me all the time: 'We'll talk, now now, this and that', but nothing. The president did not give me a clue of what he was really saying.

"Sending the burofax was making it official that I wanted to go and that I was free and the option year [playing for Barcelona in 2020-21] I was not going to use."

The defeat to Bayern had already plunged Barca into chaos, even before Messi made clear his intentions, with head coach Quique Setien sacked and sporting director Eric Abidal - with whom Messi clashed - also departing.

Ronald Koeman was installed as the new coach but reportedly quickly informed Luis Suarez, Messi's close friend, he would be among the players moved on.

The status of Barca's squad heading into the new season is still uncertain, but Messi now says he is committed to performing again at Camp Nou.

"I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change, no matter how much I wanted to go," he said. "I will do my best."

"I always wanted to win, I'm competitive and I don't like to lose anything. I always want the best for the club, for the dressing room and for myself.

"I said at the time that we were not given the support to win the Champions League. Actually, now I don't know what will happen. There is a new coach and new ideas.

"That's good, but then we have to see how the team responds and whether or not it will allow us to compete at the top level. What I can say is that I'm staying and I'm going to give my best for Barcelona."

The pressure is likely to remain on Bartomeu, however, with Messi giving a damning assessment of how Barcelona have laboured under his watch over recent seasons.

"The truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and
cover holes as things go by," he added.

"As I said before, I always thought about the welfare of my family and the club."

Barcelona fans can breathe a sigh of relief – Lionel Messi has confirmed he will remain at the club this season.

Messi informed the Catalan giants of his desire to leave after their 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on August 14 saw them finish the 2019-20 season without a trophy.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was hoping to activate a contractual clause that would have allowed him to unilaterally terminate his deal with Barca, but the club – and LaLiga – insisted a fee would need to be negotiated or the entirety of his €700million release clause be paid in order for him to leave.

Messi, who has yet to report for pre-season training under Ronald Koeman, is contracted at Camp Nou until June 2021 and it now appears unlikely he will move before that date.

With the help of Opta, we look at some of the incredible records and feats Messi has achieved with the Blaugrana.

 

- In his 731 appearances for Barcelona, Messi has scored a club-record 634 goals and supplied 254 assists. That amounts to 888 goal involvements during his Barcelona career, which began as a 17-year-old in October 2004.

- No player has scored more LaLiga goals than Messi's 444, while only Cristiano Ronaldo (447) has amassed more in the top five European leagues.

- Messi scored a record 50 goals in the 2011-12 LaLiga season and is the only player to convert at least 10 times in 14 straight campaigns in the Spanish top flight. He became the only player in history to score at least 40 club goals in 10 straight seasons between 2009-10 and 2018-19.

- From November 2012 until May 2013, the Argentina international scored in a record 21 consecutive LaLiga games.

- With 373 goals in 358 games at Camp Nou, Messi averages 1.04 goals per game at Barca's home ground. Bayern's Allianz Arena is the only stadium in which he has made more than two appearances and failed to score.

- Messi has been on the losing side 83 times in all competitions with Barca, which equates to 11 per cent of his appearances. Just over 70 per cent of the games he has played for the club have ended in victory.

- Messi played more games (219) and scored more goals (211) for Barcelona under Pep Guardiola, who he was linked with a reunion with at Manchester City, than he did with any other coach.

- His best goals-per-game ratio was 1.20 under Tito Vilanova, for whom he struck 60 times in 50 appearances in all competitions. Only under his first coach Frank Rijkaard (0.38 ) did he have a worse average than when playing for Quique Setien (0.63).

- Messi's best season in front of goal was 2011-12, when he scored 73 times and set up 29 more – both personal bests in a single season. In 2012 he set a record for the most goals for club and country in a calendar year, finding the net 91 times.

- The 33-year-old is the all-time leading scorer in El Clasico, finding the net against Real Madrid 26 times. His 15 goals at the Santiago Bernabeu in all competitions make it his most prolific away ground.

- In total he has scored against 79 different teams and his favourite opponents are Sevilla, who have conceded 37 goals in 39 meetings with him.

- The majority of his goals (522) have been scored with his left foot, while 22 have been headers. He has accumulated 47 goals from direct free-kicks and 75 from the penalty spot.

- Messi has registered 48 hat-tricks for Barcelona; 36 of those have come in LaLiga, which is a record.

- He has scored four goals in the same game on six occasions and converted five times in a match once , when he became the first player in Champions League history to achieve the feat in a meeting with Bayer Leverkusen at Camp Nou in March 2012.

- Messi's request to leave came after new coach Koeman reportedly told Luis Suarez to find a new club. Their relationship is not just strong off the field – Suarez has assisted more Barca goals for Messi (47) than any other player, but the Uruguayan appears set to continue his career at Juventus.

Lionel Messi has spoken; Barcelona's talisman and captain is staying with the Blaugrana, announcing his U-turn in an explosive interview.

Messi confirmed via Goal Spain that he has decided to stay at Camp Nou despite previously informing the club of his decision to leave.

Messi had earlier indicated he wanted to trigger a clause in his contract that would allow him to unilaterally terminate his deal at the end of the 2019-20 season.

But the season's extension meant the clause had expired, with LaLiga siding with Barca.

With no club - despite reported interest from Manchester City - able to pay his €700million release clause, Messi has opted to stay, doing so in a wide-ranging interview in which he pulled no punches.

Below are the 10 key quotes from his chat with Goal.


THE KEY QUOTES

Time to step aside

"I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I've been telling him that all year. I believed that the club needed more young players, new players and I thought my time in Barcelona was over. I felt very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here."

Bartomeu "did not keep his word"

"It [the decision to leave] did not come because of the Champions League result against Bayern Munich. No, I had been thinking about the decision for a long time. I told the president and, well, the president 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."

Somewhere better

"Every year I could have left and earned more money than at Barcelona. I always said that this was my home and it was what I felt and feel. To decide there was somewhere better than here was difficult. I felt that I needed a change and new goals, new things."

No project, no direction

"The truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by. As I said before, I always thought about the welfare of my family and the club."

Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon

"I looked further afield, 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 the decision that I wanted to carry out."

Paying the clause? Impossible

"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. 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 €700 million clause, and that this is impossible."

A trial? No chance

"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."

No happiness in Barcelona

"I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily. Lately I have not found happiness within the club. I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go. I will do my best."

A new era?

"There is a new coach and new ideas. That's good, but then we have to see how the team responds and whether or not it will compete at the top level. What I can say is that I'm staying and I'm going to give my best for Barcelona."

Nowhere better

"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."

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.

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 Goa Spainl: "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."

 

Lionel Messi's €700million release clause "does not apply at all" as he seeks to leave Barcelona, his father says, although LaLiga reiterated the captain cannot walk away as a free agent.

Messi last week informed Barca he wants to move on after an 2019-20 season in which they failed to win a trophy and were hammered 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Manchester City quickly emerged as suitors for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner but are reportedly only interested in a free transfer.

Messi believed an agreement in his contract meant he could leave Camp Nou at the end of the campaign without the astronomical release clause being paid.

But with the season delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Blaugrana maintained that option has expired, and LaLiga last week said the clause would still need to be paid in full.

Jorge Messi, the Argentina forward's father and representative, responded to LaLiga's statement on Friday, however, just a day after he had acknowledged his son might stay at Barca.

He claimed the contract showed there was "an obvious error" in LaLiga's analysis.

Jorge Messi wrote to president Javier Tebas: "We do not know which contract you have analysed, and what are the bases on which you conclude that the 'termination clause' is not applicable if the player urges the unilateral termination of it with effect from the completion of the 2019-20 sports season.

"This is due to an obvious error on your part."

Jorge quoted the relevant clause in Messi's contract, then added: "Without prejudice to other rights that are included in the contract and that you omit, it is obvious that the compensation of 700 million euros, provided for in the previous clause 8.2.3.5, does not apply at all."

According to his father, Messi's contract reads: "This compensation will not apply when the termination of the contract by unilateral decision of the player takes effect from the end of the 2019-2020 sports season."

LaLiga offered a swift response, saying his claims were "decontextualised and far from reality of the contract they signed", before referring back to its earlier statement.

Reports in Argentina on Friday shortly after Jorge Messi's letter emerged claimed the Barca captain would remain at the club for the coming season.

Philippe Coutinho trained with Barcelona for the first time since returning from his loan stint at Bayern Munich on Friday.

Bayern opted against activating a purchase option on Coutinho, who spent the 2019-20 season with the Bavarian giants after struggling to settle at Camp Nou following his reported €160million arrival in January 2018.

The Brazil international has consequently returned to Barca and began pre-season training with the team, despite being linked with a return to the Premier League at Chelsea or Arsenal.

Coutinho won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League during his campaign with Bayern, scoring twice and assisting another goal in their 8-2 destruction of his parent club in Lisbon in August.

While he reported for Barca training under new boss Ronald Koeman, Lionel Messi is yet to return to duty as his future at Camp Nou remains up in the air.

Lionel Messi could stay at Barcelona after all.

Messi, 33, sensationally asked to leave the LaLiga giants after a tumultuous 2019-20 season, which ended without a trophy.

But the saga goes on – and it may conclude with Messi remaining at the club.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CONSIDERING BARCELONA STAY

Messi is considering staying at Barcelona until the end of the upcoming season, according to Sport.

The Argentina star, who is contracted through until the end of June 2021, would begin negotiating with another club from January, the report says.

Messi has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, while Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus are also reportedly interested in the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

The latest news comes as Marca reports Europe's top clubs have a tacit agreement to avoid aggressive tactics when it comes to transfers.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea's spending spree looks one step closer to continuing. Sky Sports reports the Premier League giants have agreed a deal with Bayer Leverkusen for Kai Havertz, paying £71.4million (€80m) plus £17.9m (€20m) in add-ons. Havertz is set to join the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva as arrivals at Stamford Bridge.

- Manchester United are not giving up on Jadon Sancho. The Daily Mail reports United are sorting out the salary and fees of intermediaries before making an official bid to Borussia Dortmund for Sancho. The Bundesliga club reportedly want £108m (€121m) for the England international.

- Barcelona are expecting to rebuild this close season. Cadena SER reports no offers have come in for Samuel Umtiti and the defender could be allowed to leave for free despite being contracted until 2023.

- Despite having a deal at Bayern Munich until next year, Javi Martinez could push for an exit. Goal reports the midfielder is keen to return to Athletic Bilbao, the club he left to join Bayern in 2012, and the Bundesliga side are prepared to negotiate a sale.

- Having struggled at West Ham, Felipe Anderson could be on the move. The Mirror reports the Brazilian has been offered to Arsenal on loan for £5m.

Barcelona star Antoine Griezmann is hoping captain Lionel Messi remains at Camp Nou after sensationally handing in a transfer request.

Messi has told Barca he wants to leave the embattled LaLiga giants, having spent his entire professional career at Camp Nou, amid strong links to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

However, Messi's father Jorge said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is considering the possibility of seeing out the final year of his Barca contract rather than forcing a move immediately.

Griezmann, who arrived from Atletico Madrid at the start of the 2019-20 season, and his relationship with Messi made headlines throughout the campaign as the former struggled for consistency and the France international was asked about the speculation ahead of Nations League fixtures against Sweden and Croatia.

"We are trying to stay updated with the issue, but it is between him and the club," Griezmann told M6 as France prepare for Saturday's clash with Sweden in Stockholm.

"We only hope that he stays. I am trying to stay focused on the national team and prepare well for the next two games. 

"We have heard a little of everything but we don't know anything else about all this affair."

Griezmann scored 15 goals across all competitions in his first season for Barca, which saw the Spanish powerhouse dethroned by Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

After replacing Ernesto Valverde in January, head coach Quique Setien was also sacked following the 8-2 embarrassment last month, with Barca turning to former defender Ronald Koeman.

Ivan Rakitic joked Sevilla could find a place for Lionel Messi if the superstar decided to leave Barcelona.

Rakitic, 32, has returned to Sevilla after six successful seasons at Barcelona, where he won four LaLiga titles and a Champions League among numerous other trophies.

Messi could also sensationally leave Camp Nou, although recent reports suggest the six-time Ballon d'Or winner may stay at the LaLiga giants.

Asked if Sevilla could land Messi, Rakitic said on Thursday: "We would find him a place, no problem.

"No, seriously, I think it is nice to see how the club is growing. Always humble. And this is also what is attractive to me.

"I want to work, fight with my team-mates for making Sevilla even bigger. So, fight, work and I am looking forward to start right now."

Rakitic's Sevilla return on the field is set to come on September 24, when the LaLiga club face Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup.

The Croatian midfielder was part of the Barca squad embarrassed 8-2 by Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals last month.

But Rakitic was unfazed by any suggestions he could get some revenge for that defeat when Sevilla meet the Bundesliga champions in Budapest.

"Big respect for Bayern. Obviously, it will be a very difficult game. We know how strong they are," he said.

"However, I am also aware of them knowing how powerful Sevilla is. So, we will be preparing that game in the best way possible. There is a trophy at stake – a very important trophy.

"We want to compete well and show them we are a great team. If it is a revenge or not… what I want is to win with Sevilla. I can't wait."

Andy Robertson does not want Lionel Messi "anywhere near the Premier League" as speculation over the Barcelona captain's future rumbles on.

Messi dropped a bombshell by informing Barca he wanted to leave the Catalan giants last week and Manchester City were quickly installed as favourites to sign him.

The forward has not reported for pre-season training under Ronald Koeman this week, signalling his belief that a clause in his contract allowing him to leave on a free has been activated.

However, Barca and LaLiga are of the opinion the €700million release clause in a deal that runs until next June will need to be met in order for him to become a free agent.

The Argentina international's father and agent, Jorge Messi, arrived in Barcelona for talks on Wednesday and on Thursday suggested it is still possible his son could stay at Camp Nou.

That would have been music to the ears of Liverpool defender Robertson, who does not want to see the 33-year-old making a sensational switch to City.

"From a completely selfish point of view I hope it doesn't happen, hopefully he stays at Barca," the Scotland left-back said when asked about the possibility of Messi playing in the English top flight.

"He's one of, if not the best player to ever play the game so for him to go to one of your nearest rivals is probably never a good sign. He's a fantastic player, I've no doubt if he came to the Premier League he'd bring the exact same quality, the same passion and everything he brings at Barca.

"I think Liverpool have ruled out that we are going to sign him, so for me I don't want him anywhere near the Premier League and hopefully it stays that way, but we'll wait and see what happens with that.

"Obviously you can see the uncertainty at Barca, I think everyone can see that, and hopefully they get it resolved. If he comes to the Prem we'll deal with it, it'll be great for the lads to play against him. I've played against him twice and it's the hardest games I've ever played, so you need to stay on watch against him at all times, he can pop up out of nowhere.

"He's a fantastic player, probably the best to ever play the game but hopefully he stays in Spain for me."

Lionel Messi will not be booed by Barcelona supporters if he stays at Camp Nou and can still bow out of the club on a high, according to the club's iconic former player Rivaldo.

Talks between Barca and Messi's agent and father Jorge are ongoing after the six-time Ballon d'Or winner last week informed the LaLiga giants of his desire to leave.

Messi reportedly hoped to trigger a clause in his contract that allows him to leave for free, but Barca are of the opinion his €700million release clause still stands.

Manchester City and Inter have been strongly linked, but Jorge Messi indicated on Thursday the forward is considering staying in Catalonia for another year.

Should that prove to be the case, Rivaldo does not believe the Argentina international will be given a tough time by the fanbase of a club he has represented since the age of 13.

"If Messi stays for at least one more season it won't be a problem," Rivaldo told Betfair. 

"Blaugrana fans still have lots of love for him and know that he is a legendary player who made and can still make the difference at the club, so things can still end up nicely.

"A lot can happen in the next few weeks - he can leave, he can stay for one more season or even extend his contract, so we must wait. 

"But if he stays at the club I'm not imagining a scenario of fans booing him at the Camp Nou or anything similar, not at all."

Barca finished the 2019-20 season trophyless and suffered a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

And Rivaldo, who left Barcelona on bad terms in 2002, feels the manner of Barca's latest European capitulation proved to be the final straw for Messi.

"He may have decided to leave Barcelona after the humiliation against Bayern Munich in the Champions League," he said. 

"After a season of internal problems at Barca and losing the LaLiga title to Real Madrid, the 8-2 defeat was the last straw that made Messi want to leave.

"He has taken responsibility for the team for too long and is probably tired of the pressure. 

"The club have signed many players in the last couple of seasons, but no one has stepped up to help him and relieve some of his burden."

Chelsea rejected the chance to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus as part of a swap deal for Jorginho, according to the Italy international's agent Joao Santos.

Jorginho had been strongly linked with a return to Serie A with champions Juventus during Maurizio Sarri's time in charge.

Juve replaced Sarri with Andrea Pirlo last month and have signed Arthur from Barcelona, however, with Pjanic heading the opposite way.

But Jorginho's representative Santos claims things could have turned out differently had Sarri remained in place at the Allianz Stadium.

"Juventus had offered a swap deal including Miralem Pjanic, but the English side didn't take it into consideration," he told Tuttomercatoweb.

"[Juve sporting director Fabio] Paratici never called me. Would he have moved to Juventus with Sarri? I think so."

Jorginho has had a mixed spell with Chelsea since joining from Napoli two years ago and has also been touted as a target for Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Roma.

And Santos says the 28-year-old, who is currently on international duty with Italy, will look to find a new club if he is overlooked for selection by Blues boss Frank Lampard.

"He has a three-year deal with Chelsea. The market is long, it will last until October 5," he said. 

"If Chelsea were to think that he is no longer part of the project, I would find an alternative solution.

"Last year he played 40 games for Chelsea and is an important member of the national team. 

"So far we haven't received any official offers. He is followed by many clubs and there aren't many players with his characteristics in that role."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.