The six-time Ballon d’Or winner will return to Camp Nou after a saga that he says revealed many “fake people” in his orbit
Lionel Messi has said that his dedication to Barcelona will not change moving forward, despite his attempt to force an exit from the club this summer.
After looking to activate a clause that would allow him to opt out of his contract, Messi has now reversed course and committed his future to Barcelona.
The 33-year-old had admitted he felt frustrated after a season that saw Barcelona fail to win a single trophy, and finished with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final.
Though Messi didn’t deny trying to leave a club he joined 20 years ago, he insisted that his attitude and commitment to the cause wouldn’t change now that he is staying put.
“I will continue at Barca and my attitude will not change no matter how much I have wanted to go,” Messi told Goal. “I will do my best.
“I always want 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.”
Barcelona’s Champions League drought has now reached five seasons, with Ronald Koeman brought in to try and win Europe’s biggest club prize.
“I said it at the time that we were not given the support to win the Champions League,” the Argentine added. “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 give 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.”
Messi has admitted that he was hurt by those questioning his commitment to a club he has called home for 20 years, though he was strengthened by the support of those closest to him.
“I didn’t feel alone,” the six-time Ballon d’Or winner said. “Not alone. There are those who have always been by my side. That is enough for me and strengthens me.
“But I did feel hurt by things that I heard from people, from journalists, from people questioning my commitment to Barcelona and saying things that I think I didn’t deserve. It also helped me to see the truth in people.
“This world of football is very difficult and there are many fake people. This happening has helped me to recognise many fake people. It hurt me when my love for this club was questioned.
“No matter how much I go or stay, my love for Barca will never change.”
The possibility of an ugly legal saga loomed after Messi officially declared his intention to leave Barca last week.
Barca appeared intent on challenging Messi’s assertion that he could unilaterally opt out of his deal, saying the clause expired in June. Messi’s legal team, meanwhile, was set to argue that the clause was in place through the end of the season, which had been extended due to the coronavirus break.
Messi has emphatically denied that he was looking to drag his saga out in court.
“It has hurt me a lot that things are published against me and above all, that false things are published,” Messi said. “Or that they came to think that I could go to trial against Barca in order to benefit myself.
“I would never do such a thing. I repeat, I wanted to go and it was entirely my right, because the contract said that I could be released. And it is not, ‘I’m leaving and that’s it’. I was leaving and it cost me a lot.
“I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily. Lately I have not found happiness within the club.”
Messi has admitted that he has had chances to leave Barca in the past, but has continued with the club while continually turning down more lucrative offers from other sides.
“I always put the club before anything else. I had the possibility of leaving Barca many times,” Messi said.
“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”.
With his commitment to the cause at Camp Nou now confirmed, Messi is going forward with renewed purpose and dedication — mindful that there are many others going through much more difficult times than he has in recent weeks.
“As usual, I am going to give my best, we will do my best to fight for all the objectives and hopefully I can dedicate myself to the people who have had a bad time,” Messi said.
“I had a bad time this year, but it is hypocritical to say that if you compare it with people who have really had a bad time with the coronavirus, with people who have lost relatives and who have lost many things.
“Hopefully I can give my best and dedicate victories to all those people who accompany us and their families, to be able to dedicate the best to those people who are having a bad time and that we can overcome once and for all we can overcome this virus and return to normality.”
This article was previously published on Goal.com