Lionel Messi says he will stay at Barcelona, despite a shocking attempt to leave the club in recent weeks. Both Barcelona and La Liga believe Messi would have to fork over €700 million if he wants to leave the club, as stated in his contract.

Lionel Messi, BarcelonaPool / Getty Images

In a statement released on Friday, Messi's father and agent, Jorge, quoted a clause in Messi's contract which states "this compensation will not apply when the resolution of the contract, by the unilateral decision of the player, takes effect from the end of the 2019-20 sporting season."

"It's obvious that the compensation of €700m... does not apply at all," he argued.

Barcelona and La Liga say the clause to which Messi's team is referring expired in June 2020. Messi did not express his desire to depart until August 25.

Until this point, Messi has refused to join Barcelona for training, assuming he would be able to leave the club.

Manchester City were considered favorites to bring in the Barcelona legend. It is believed that following his tenure there, he would have then joined  New York City FC in the MLS. The 33-year-old could still follow this path, but will have to wait until 2021 to do so.

[Via]