Spanish La Liga president, Javier Tebas, has insisted that the Spanish league is not fighting with Lionel Messi after the superstar announced his intention to remain at Barcelona weeks after he revealed he wanted to leave the club.
33-year-old Messi’s future at Camp Nou has been the subject of much speculation since his decision to hand in a formal transfer request on August 25.
After suffering an unsuccessful 2019-20 campaign which ended in abject failure for the Blaugrana, he wanted to trigger the release clause in his contract which allows him to leave the club at the end of any season.
La Liga publicly insisted that Messi’s existing deal remains valid, meaning he could only depart if his original €700 million (£624m/$823m) buy-out clause was met, with the release clause in question having technically expired back in June .
After Messi realized he would lose in any legal battle against the club, he made a U-turn, revealing in an interview that he does not wish to be drawn into a legal dispute against the club he has played for since he was 13.
“Now I am going to continue in the club because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the €700 million clause, and that this is impossible,” he said.
La liga chief, Tebas has now come out to defend La Liga’s stance on Messi’s contract situation.
Speaking to Corriere Della Sera on Monday September 7, he said: “Mine was not a war against Messi. I would have done the same if it had been Pepito Perez or any other player in our league.
“As a league we have a duty to defend legality, justice: contracts must be respected. Always. Whether your name is Messi or Pepito Perez.
“Personally, I think there has been no battle with Messi and his entourage. I have a special esteem for Leo, I love him, he is the history of our football in the last 20 years. How could I have gone to war with him?
“I repeat: my intervention was aimed only at respecting the contracts. It is clear that with being Leo involved, the story assumed enormous media dimensions.”
“Although [Messi’s] lawyers said otherwise, the contract was clear. One part was decontextualised, this led them to error.
“In the end, I’m happy with Messi’s decision to avoid legal conflicts. He will continue to play on the team of his life. I hope that relations will return to normal.”
Messi could still end up leaving Barca in 2021, when his current deal expires.
Asked to confirm whether Messi can leave next year, Tebas responded: “It will be his decision. The contract allows it.”