Lionel Messi: Barcelona forward says he always had the club's 'best interests in mind' despite transfer request

Messi: "After so many disagreements, I would like to bring an end to everything. We all have to be united and assume that the best is yet to come" 

Lionel Messi
Image: Lionel Messi came close to leaving Barcelona this summer

Lionel Messi insists he always had Barcelona's "best interests in mind" throughout the summer despite handing in a transfer request.

The 33-year-old last month informed Barcelona he wanted to leave the club and intended to utilise a clause in his contract which he and his representatives claimed allowed him to do so on a free transfer.

Barca insisted the time had passed for the clause to be activated and that the player would need to pay the €700m release clause in his contract if another club wanted to sign him this summer.

Lionel Messi shakes hands with Ronald Koeman after the game 1:47
La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter says Barcelona's 4-0 home win over Villarreal gave Ronald Koeman a 'dream start' in his first game in charge as Lionel Messi scored in their opening La Liga game

Messi, who was linked with a move to Manchester City and a reunion with former boss Pep Guardiola, then revealed he had reversed his decision, saying he could never go to court against the club he has spent his entire professional career with.

The Argentine scored on his return to the first team in a 4-0 win over Villarreal on Sunday, and hopes he can put a tumultuous few weeks behind him.

Sky Sports News Chief Reporter Bryan Swanson gives a timeline of events that started with Lionel Messi wanting to leave Barcelona before deciding to stay at the Spanish club 10 days later

"After so many disagreements, I would like to bring an end to everything. We all have to be united and assume that the best is yet to come," Messi said in an interview with SPORT.

"I take responsibility for my errors and if they existed, it was only to make FC Barcelona better and stronger.

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"I wanted to send a message to all the socios and fans that follow us. If at any moment, any of them were annoyed by something that I said or did, let there be no doubts that anything I did was always with the club's best interests in mind.

"Uniting passion with excitement and motivation will be the only way to achieve our objectives, always united and rowing in the same direction."

Lionel Messi celebrates his goal for Barcelona
Image: Lionel Messi celebrates his goal for Barcelona against Villarreal on Sunday

'Suarez should not have been pushed out'

Messi aimed fresh criticism at the Barcelona hierarchy last week following Luis Suarez's departure from the club to Atletico Madrid.

New Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman told Suarez last month he was not part of his plans for the 2020/21 season.

Suarez was tearful as he said goodbye at a press conference on Thursday, revealing he felt "proud" of the attacking partnership and friendship he cultivated with Messi during his six-year stay in Catalonia.

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar with the Champions League trophy in 2015
Image: Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar with the Champions League trophy in 2015

Messi, hitting out at the club's management of Suarez's departure, wrote on Instagram: "You deserved a fitting farewell for the person that you are: one of the best players in the club's history, having achieved incredible things both individually and collectively.

"You didn't deserve to be pushed out the way they did, but the truth is nothing surprises me any more.

"I was gradually accepting it, but when I got into the dressing room today, how hard it's going to be to no longer have you around in the day-to-day on and off the pitch really dawned on me.

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"We're going to miss you so much. It's been so many years, so many mates (a tea-like drink), lunches, dinners… There are so many things that will never be forgotten after being together every day.

"It will be strange to see you in another kit and even more so to play against you...

"I wish you all the best for your new challenge. Sending love to you and your family. See you soon, mate."

Sky Sports News reporter Gary Cotterill takes a look through some of Spain's biggest newspapers as they react to Lionel Messi's decision to remain at Barcelona

Summer transfer window - key dates and times

The summer transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday October 5 with a feast of activity lined up on Transfer Deadline Day on Sky Sports News and across our Sky Sports platforms.

A domestic-only window for deals between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on SSN and across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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