Barcelona President claims it was in the best interest of the club to force superstar, Lionel Messi, to stay at the club.
Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has been viewed as the number one villain of the club and many people started to despise him due to the way he denied Lionel Messi his right to leave the club after the end of the season. The president has now come forth with a lengthy statement saying that although he empathizes with Messi and the fans, keeping the veteran at the club was a vital decision for the club’s future. He claims Messi will be the key to their title victory this year.
The whole footballing world was set in chaos when it was revealed that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner had sent an official request to leave the Nou Camp. Fans were in tears but also respected his decision as the Spanish giants were losing their way and the humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich was the last straw for the Argentine. Messi had a clause in his contract which allowed him to leave at the end of every season but when he tried to activate it, Bartomeu informed him that the season was actually over in June and thus his contract had already expired.
On top of that, the president put a ridiculous price tag of 700 million euros on him which ensured that any team who wished to sign him would not be able to do so without breaching FFP regulations. This meant that Messi was stuck with Barcelona unless he wanted to take his club to court but according to the forward, he would never take his beloved club to a legal battle and thus he chose to take the high road and honor the last year of his contract.
Bartomeu has always maintained the fact that he was in the right as the contract had expired but on Monday, he gave the fans and the media a better view of his perspective and what went on in his mind as made the crucial decision to tie Messi to the club. He said,
Our priority was keeping Messi as part of our new project so I decided against starting a discussion, I had been accused of forcing his departure in order to balance our books. Well, no, we put the interests of the club first and didn’t want to reinforce a direct rival. We made that decision knowing that we would be criticized for it.” Bartomeu said.
“I understand the positions of everyone, empathizing is important. In the case of Leo, it is good to get angry because it is not good to accept defeat and we have all gotten angry. But there was a deadline for him to announce whether or not he was going unilaterally. He didn’t and here it is. We all want him to retire at Barca.”
Thus he maintains that he did everything for the club and only had the club’s interest in mind. The Catalans made a good start to the season but have recently dropped off with a draw against Sevilla and two losses against Getafe and Real Madrid. They find themselves 12th on the table, six points behind their arch-rivals, Real Madrid.
Image Credit – Josep Maria Bartomeu Facebook