The Lionel Messi saga finally came to an end as the player publicly announced he would stay at Barcelona, albeit not by choice.
Following his father’s meeting with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, he reiterated his stance that he believed Messi could leave on a free transfer to Manchester City, but La Liga and the club held firm, coaxing an announcement from Messi hours later.
It’s very disappointing considering everything surrounding the player’s desire to leave were confirmed to be true, but the club he has given so much to has decided to hold him against his will for at least one more season.
The future is very much in flux, as new elections in March will in all likelihood oust Bartomeu and possibly name Messi’s friend and former teammate Xavi Hernández as the new manager.
“I wasn’t happy and I wanted to leave,” Messi said. “The management of the club led by Bartomeu is a disaster. The truth is that there’s been no project…Bartomeu told me that by the end of the season, I can decide whether I want to go or whether I want to stay and in the end he didn’t keep this promise.”
These are words seething with anger from Barcelona’s best-ever player, who could have kicked off a rebuild by moving on amicably from their 33-year old icon.
Now, they face a season of unprecedented drama.
He will need to leave under a new president and manager, but it’s a terrible look for Bartomeu and the club.