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OFFICIAL: Lionel Messi announces 'I will STAY' at Barcelona in statement 'to avoid legal dispute'

OFFICIAL: Lionel Messi announces 'I will STAY' at Barcelona in statement 'to avoid legal dispute'
Lionel Messi has put to bed the biggest potential transfer saga this summer by committing his future to Barcelona in a statement on Friday, confirming a dramatic u-turn after initially telling the club he wanted to leave.

"I wasn't happy and I wanted to leave," the player told Goal. "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."

It had earlier been reported the Argentine icon and Barca's all-time top scorer would make his decision official as the club had made it known they would not sell him for less than the €700 million buyout clause in his contract.

That was despite the player's father writing to appeal the validity of the clause to La Liga, after the Spanish league had sided with the Catalan club.

READ MORE: 'Error on your part': Messi's dad writes letter disputing Barcelona's €700m buyout clause of his son after La Liga ruling

“I'll continue at Barcelona and my attitude won't change, no matter how much I have wanted to go," Messi continued.

“I told the club, the president, that I wanted to go. I've been telling him all year. I thought my time in Barcelona was over, sadly - I always wanted to finish my career here.

"It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he did not end up keeping his word."

Although the six-time Ballon d'Or winner still clearly harbors some resentment towards the Barcelona board, the 33-year-old's children reportedly 'begged' their dad to stay in Spain, despite the political storm swirling behind the scenes in Camp Nou.

READ MORE: FALSE ALARM! Erroneous report Lionel Messi had decided to STAY at Barcelona tantalizes football fans

"When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife, it was a brutal drama. The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona. But I've been telling the president and the club that I want to leave all year long!" the Rosario native said.

It is perhaps the least surprising transfer news of the summer, as many fans believed the fallout would eventually be resolved between the player and the club, despite solid interest from English Premier League club Manchester City.