Written by 5:28 pm New York News

Lionel Messi Says He Will Stay With Barcelona

Messi said that given his relationship with the club and its supporters he could not continence the idea of pursuing a damaging lawsuit to force his way out of the club. Instead, he will remain to help pick up the pieces as Barcelona prepares to rebuild itself after a catastrophic year on and off the field.

A new coach, Ronald Koeman, has already been hired and several senior players, including Messi’s close friend Luis Suárez, have been told they have no future at the Camp Nou.

Koeman, appointed in the wake of the humbling against Bayern, had spoken to Messi shortly before the player stunned the club by announcing his intention to leave. News reports in Spain at the time suggested that the new Dutch coach, a former player with Barcelona, had warned Messi that he would no longer receive special treatment — a threat, it was suggested, that made Messi more determined to leave.

Instead the two will have to form an uneasy alliance for at least a year and try to shake Barcelona out of a slump that had been building in recent seasons. The surrender to the German champion came after similar capitulations in the Champions League against Roma and Liverpool in recent seasons. Messi said those failures drove his decision to seek a new challenge in the final years of his career. Messi was 28 when the team won its last European Cup.

“I looked further afield and I want to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League. You can win or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete,” he said.

There was growing speculation that Messi would be joining Manchester City, backed by the brother of the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the English team — managed by Messi’s old mentor, Pep Guardiola — is one of few in world soccer that could both afford to hire Messi and provide him with the platform for the success he still craves. But for all the talk of an exit, Messi’s inextricable link to Barcelona meant a departure, whatever the circumstances, would have been shocking.

Messi has been with the team for 20 years, since he moved there as a 13-year-old from Argentina.

His rise, in that time, has mirrored that of his club. Messi’s list of honors extends to 10 Spanish championships, four Champions League trophies and six world player of the year awards. His tally of individual records, if anything, is more remarkable.

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