Lionel Messi ‘p****d off’ but Barcelona president Bartomeu defends decision

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has defended his decision to prevent Lionel Messi from leaving the club this summer, despite the star being “p****d off”. Messi had a very public falling out with Bartomeu over the summer and attempted to force a move away from the Nou Camp.

Back in August, Messi sent Barcelona an official document notifying them of his desire to leave the club.

The player believed he was able to exercise an early termination clause in his contract but Barcelona argued that was not the case and any club looking to sign him would have pay his €700m (£635m) release clause.

Barcelona claimed that Messi needed to have exercised the clause by May 31, after the scheduled end of the season, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic meant the campaign was extended.

Messi could have challenged them in court but, in an interview with Goal, he said: “I would never go to court against the club of my life”.

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Messi also hit out at Bartomeu in particular, adding: “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. My love for Barca will never change.”

Now, Bartomeu has defended his decision to force Messi to stay at the Nou Camp in a press conference on Monday.

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“I understand Leo Messi, empathising is important,” he said. “In the case of Leo and the whole team we were angry because we wanted different results.

“It’s good to get p****d off because it means there is ambition and desire. There was a clause with the June 10 deadline for leave the club unilaterally.

“Messi continues as a FC Barcelona player and I hope that for many years, he will retire at the Nou Camp.”

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique recently hit out at Bartomeu over his treatment of Messi, telling La Vanguardia: “As president I would have acted differently.

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“I asked Leo to stay on. I didn’t have much dealings with him those days because I thought it was a very personal decision. I only said: ‘Leo, it’s a year, and then new people will come.’

“I asked myself: ‘How can it be that the best player in history, who we have had the incredible luck to enjoy, gets up one day and sends a burofax because he feels that they are not listening to him?’

“Everything is too shocking. What’s going on? Leo deserves everything. The new stadium should be named after him first and then the sponsor.

“We should preserve our figureheads, not underappreciate them. It really gets to me.”

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