Lionel Messi says he is staying with Barcelona this season

Lionel Messi had told Barcelona last month that he wanted to leave, insisting a clause in his contract allowed him to do so on a free transfer. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 04 September 2020

Lionel Messi says he is staying with Barcelona this season

  • Barcelona, backed by La Liga, have insisted that a €700 million ($824 million) release clause would have to be paid for Messi's release

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi ended intense speculation about his future on Friday by saying he will remain with Barcelona for another year - but only because he did not want to enter a court battle with the club about his contract.
The Argentine six-time world player of the year had told the club last month that he wanted to leave, insisting a clause in his contract allowed him to do so on a free transfer.
Barcelona, backed by La Liga, have insisted that a €700 million ($824 million) release clause would have to be paid.
"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," Messi told website Goal.com.
"There was another way and it was to go to trial," he added. “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.
"Barca gave me everything and I gave it everything. I thought and was sure that I was free to leave. The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not. Now they cling to the fact that I did not say it before June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for La Liga in the middle of this awful coronavirus and this disease altered all the season."
The Argentine, 33, added: "When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama. The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools."


Beijing Guaon pounce on rusty Melbourne in 3-1 victory

Updated 25 November 2020

Beijing Guaon pounce on rusty Melbourne in 3-1 victory

  • The Chinese side have one foot in the last-16 of the Asian Champions League

DOHA: Beijing Guoan have one foot in the last-16 of the Asian Champions League after a convincing 3-1 win against a rusty Melbourne Victory side on Tuesday extended their perfect record in Group E to three from three.

Another Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua also improved their chances of qualification from Group F with their second win in three matches, edging past FC Tokyo 1-0, courtesy of a late penalty.

But it was Bruno Genesio’s Beijing outfit who sent out a strong warning to their rivals in the tournament by following up on their win over FC Seoul last week with another impressive performance in Doha where the tournament’s eastern zone matches are being played after a nine-month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beijing clearly looked a class above Melbourne Victory who were largely lackluster both in attack and defense, with even the Australian side’s consolation goal late in the second half coming through a huge deflection from Kim Min-Jae after substitute Gianluca Ianucci’s powerful shot from nearly 25 yards appeared heading straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Beijing allowed their Australian rivals only 40 percent ball possession and that worked hugely in their favor as they created chances galore at the Al-Sadd Sports Club.

But once again, it was their Brazilian presence which played a pivotal role, with Renato Augusto and A Lan on target in the 22nd and 34th minutes before Wang Zimin’s brilliant goal in the 74th minute to put the match out of Victory’s reach.

Frenchman Genesio, who has been in charge at Beijing Guoan for almost 16 months, was not in a very celebratory mood despite his team’s 100 percent win record so far.

“In the first half we played really well as we tried high pressing as we trained before the game and were successful in keeping control,” said Genesio.

“The only thing I am disappointed about is that we conceded one goal towards the end. We need to be more serious and cautious towards the end of the game.”

Melbourne Victory, for whom this was their second defeat in three matches — their only win came in February against Chiangrai United — are now third in the standings and would need a herculean comeback to qualify for the knockout phase.

“For us, It’s not the result we wanted,” said Victory’s Steve Kean, whose side had no match practice for several months before heading to Doha. “This was our very first match of any type, we did not even play any friendlies and came against a Beijing side that have played a full season.

2We wanted to win and take points but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Shanghai Shenhua were celebrating their success over Tokyo FC after Yu Hanchao’s successful penalty in the 74th minute proved the decisive moment in the match.

“FC Tokyo is a great team but today we really wanted to limit their opportunities,” said Shenhua coach Choi Kang-hee.

“Our players really overcame their difficulties of fitness and fatigue. They persisted from the first minute until the end and I thank them for that.

“They showed great mental power and spirit and I believe they will get better from here,” he added.

Tokyo FC’s Kenta Hasegawa was clearly upset, although he was not losing hope yet despite his team being in third place in the standings with four points from three matches

“The result is disappointing. This was the first game in the AFC Champions League for many of our young players,” Hasegawa said.

“They were not ready for this game, but I am sure the will be ready for the next.”