Lionel Messi admits the drama of an attempted exit from Barcelona this summer affected his form at the start of the season.
The 33-year-old Argentina forward told Barcelona he wanted out after nearly two decades at the club, sending a document, via burofax [a form of recorded delivery provided by Spain’s postal service], expressing his desire to activate a release clause that would end his contract.
After days of back-and-forth over the issue, Messi agreed to stay, with Barcelona and La Liga insistent the forward’s €700m release clause had to be paid in full to trigger a move.
Despite keeping hold of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, Barca have struggled on the pitch this season, winning just six of their 13 league matches so far and sit fifth in La Liga, eight points behind Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
Opening up on his summer saga, Messi told LaSexta: “I had a really bad time of things in the summer. It had been building up.
“What happened before the summer, what with how the season ended, the burofax and all the rest of it. I ended up carrying that over a bit into the start of this season.”
Barcelona were rocked by further off-field issues when Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as club president in October, following heavy criticism of his handling of Messi’s attempt to leave.
Barca forward Antoine Griezmann has also had to deny talk of a rift with Messi and distanced himself from comments about his team-mate from his former agent and his uncle.
Griezmann’s former agent Eric Olhats had accused Messi of having too much control at the club, saying his “reign of terror” had made life difficult for the France forward to adapt since his arrival last year.
In response, Messi said he felt tired of being blamed for problems at Barcelona and is feeling positive again now, having recently equalled Pele’s record of 643 goals for a single club after scoring in Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday.
“I’m feeling good at the moment,” Messi said. “I’m raring to really fight for everything that lies ahead.
“I’m excited. I know that the club is having a tough time of things, both on and off the field, and everything related to Barcelona is a bit tricky right now, but I’m feeling hungry.”