Lionel Messi has opened up about the toll the last few months have taken on his family as he prepared to leave Barcelona.
The Argentine superstar has now confirmed he will stay at the club, but explained he’d been considering an exit for some time.
Last month, he made his wish to leave official and informed the hierachy.
The 33-year-old handed in a transfer request in which he expressed a desire to exercise a clause in his contract, allowing him to leave for free with immediate effect.
But Barca have maintained that the clause expired in June and was no longer valid, and have been insistent he will not be sold for anything less than his €700million (£625m) release clause.
Now Messi – who was wanted by Manchester City – has admitted defeat in his bid to leave the club.
Regarding the impact this has had on his family, Messi told Goal: “Mateo is still little and he doesn’t realise what it means to go somewhere else and make your life a few years elsewhere.
“Thiago, he is older. He heard something on TV and found out something and asked.
“I didn’t want him to know anything about being forced to leave, to have to live in a new school, or make new friends.
“He cried to me and said, ‘Let’s not go’. I repeat that it was hard, really.
“It was understandable. It happened to me. It is very difficult to make a decision.
“I love Barcelona and I’m not going to find a better place than here anywhere. Still, I have the right to decide.
“I was going to look for new goals and new challenges. And tomorrow I could go back, because here in Barcelona I have everything.
“My son, my family, they grew up here and are from here. There was nothing wrong with wanting to leave. I needed it, the club needed it and it was good for everyone.
“My wife, with all the pain of her soul, supported and accompanied me.”