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Lionel Messi insists he only publicly blasted Barcelona to make club ‘stronger’ in first interview since announcing stay

LIONEL MESSI believes his dramatic falling out with Barcelona will help make the club stronger.

The Argentine insists his transfer summer saga is now water under the bridge in his first interview since declaring he was staying.

Messi stunned world football by handing in a transfer request after Barca's embarrassing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu blocked his move insisting he will only let him leave for £623million.

Messi, who thought he was eligible to leave for nothing by exploiting an expired clause in his contract, was forced to stay at the Nou Camp having refused to get roped into a bitter legal battle.

Speaking about his dramatic summer, Messi insisted every decision he made was with the club's 'best interests in mind.'

He told Sport: "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.

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

"I wanted to send a message to all the 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."

Barcelona have seen a summer of changes appointing new boss Ronald Koeman while letting veteran players Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic all leave.

Nelson Semedo has been sold to Wolves while Arthur joined Juventus.

Messi has one final year on his contract and will be free to leave next summer.

The clause allowing him to leave for free expired on June 10 but Messi's camp argued it should have been extended because the coronavirus pandemic delayed the season.

It has sparked a major transfer tug-of-war between the player, his father and Barcelona that looked set to have a bitter ending.

After announcing he was staying, he told Goal: "I wasn't happy and I wanted to leave.

"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.

“I thought and was sure that I was free to leave, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not.

"Now they cling to the fact that I did not say it before June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for LaLiga in the middle of this awful coronavirus and this disease altered all the season.

"And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club.

"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 (£623m) clause, and that this is impossible."

Messi wasted little time getting off the mark this season scoring in Barca's opening 4-0 win with Villarreal.

Watch Lionel Messi score stunner with his RIGHT foot in Barcelona friendly after Man City’s failed transfer swoop

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