A soccer drama that threatened to turn ugly was resolved on Friday when Lionel Messi announced he would stay at Barcelona for another season.
In doing so, however, the Argentine forward took a big swipe at the club's hierarchy, saying to Goal.com (quote):
"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 decision marks a dramatic turnaround for the six-time world player of the year, who recently surprised the soccer world when he asked to leave the Spanish club.
His father and agent Jorge had said earlier Friday that his son could leave the team for free if he wanted to due to a clause in his contract.
But both Barcelona and the Spanish League insisted Messi could not go to a rival club without them paying an $830 million release clause.
Messi is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time.
The 33 year-old is Barcelona’s record goalscorer and has won the prestigious Champions League four times with the club.
Relations soured over the last few weeks, however, when he announced his intention to leave the club he joined as a teenager, and did not attend training.
By remaining at the Catalan club for the fourth and final year of his contract, Messi is in line for a $83.38 million loyalty bonus and will be able to leave without a transfer fee.