La Liga : Lionel Messi announces he is staying at Barcelona this season

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad at Camp Nou on March 07, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer Lionel Messi says he is staying because it is “impossible” for any team to pay his release clause and he does not want to face the club in court.

The Argentine, 33, sent a fax to Barca last Tuesday saying he wanted to exercise a clause in his contract which he said allowed him to leave for free.

But the club said his 700m euro (£624m) release clause would have to be met.

“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,” Messi told Goal.

“I thought and was sure that I was free to leave,” Messi told GOAL

“The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not.

“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 700m clause, and that this is impossible.”

Messi, whose contract expires next summer, says the fact he did not tell Barcelona he wanted to leave before 10 June was crucial, and had he done so his release clause would not have had to be met.

“Now they cling to the fact that I did not say it before 10 June, when it turns out that on 10 June we were competing for La Liga in the middle of this awful coronavirus and this disease altered all the season,” he added.

“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. I know that it never crossed my mind to take Barca to court.”

Messi, who has been at Barcelona for 20 years, told the club he wanted to leave nine days after their 8-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champion League semi-finals.