Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has revealed that he stopped Lionel Messi from leaving the club for a rival and that he was willing to accept the consequences of doing that. The Argentine was looking to leave this summer but he opted to see out the final year of his contract instead.
Few expected Lionel Messi to produce the world’s greatest transfer saga but the Barcelona captain did just that this summer when he sent a Burofax asking to leave. However, after less than two weeks of being reportedly transfer listed, the Argentine produced a U-turn and opted to see out the final year of his contract with his boyhood club. It has, however, caused a domino effect on Barcelona with fans looking to oust president Josep Maria Bartomeu from his post.
Messi’s explosive interview with Goal, played a key role in that as he revealed exactly how he and his teammates were being treated by the board. But in an interview recently, Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that he was only acting in the club’s interest and will accept the consequences that come with not letting Messi go to a rival side. He further added that he wasn’t looking to balance the club’s book with the Argentine’s potential fee but instead looking to help them.
"I was accused of wanting to force a transfer for financial reasons to 'balance the books. That's not true. I defended the interests of the club, accepting the consequences that refusing Messi's decision to go to one of our rivals would entail," Bartomeu said in a news conference on Monday.
There have been no rumours or reports, however, that Messi is looking to extend his contract beyond the current season but rumour has it that he is looking to leave. While there has been no confirmation, Bartomeu opened up about the summer saga and revealed that he had no choice but to stop Messi from leaving Barcelona. He further added that he hopes Messi “wants to renew his contract with the club and that he ends his career here.”
"Messi had a contract in vigour. The option to rescind the deal unilaterally had expired. And the most important thing was to start a new sporting cycle with Messi in the team. I understand he may be angry about not leaving. I tried to explain to him and his family that we could not let him go. He's the key to Koeman's project. I hope in the future he says he's happy, that he wants to renew his contract with the club and that he ends his career here,” he added.