Messi has accepted he must stay at Camp Nou to avoid dragging his beloved club to court, but only after experiencing a desperately sad couple of weeks.
“When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama,” Messi told Goal.
“The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona, nor did they want to change schools.
“But I looked further afield and I want to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League. You can win or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete.
“At least compete for it and let us not fall apart in Rome, Liverpool, Lisbon. All that led me to think about that decision that I wanted to carry out.”
However, that ambition to accept a new challenge was thwarted by Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, whom Messi claims reneged on a promise he could leave at the end of 2019-20.
“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,” he said.
“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 La Liga 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 (£624m/$823m) clause, and that this is impossible.”
There was only one way out if Messi was to leave: taking Barcelona to court. But the six-time Ballon d’Or winner refuses to take that route, and so will remain at the club for another 10 months.
“There was another way and it was to go to trial," he added. “I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, which gave me everything since I arrived.
“It is the club of my life, I have made my life here.
“Barca gave me everything and I gave it everything. I know that it never crossed my mind to take Barca to court.”
Excerpts from an exclusive with Goal.