The Argentine wanted to leave the Blaugrana this summer but ultimately decided he was unwilling to get involved in a legal battle with the club
Luis Suarez believes that Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona if the club brings in a new board, which would include replacing current president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Messi nearly left Barcelona in the summer, telling the club he wanted to activate a release clause in his contract, before reversing his decision when he told Goal that he had decided to stay to avoid a potential legal fight against the club.
The 33-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the current season, is still far from happy with the club’s board, saying Bartomeu and Co. have failed to build a winning team around him for some time.
“The truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by,” Messi said.
Messi’s anger was part of the reason that a vote of no confidence will proceed against Bartomeu, who could be forced out of his position.
Suarez, who himself departed Barcelona last month when he joined Atletico Madrid, said he spoke to his good friend often about his desire to leave Barcelona.
“Out of respect for the relationship I have with Leo, I’m not going to say what we talked about at the time, but he lived through a difficult and complicated situation,” Suarez told ESPN.
“He wanted to leave and the club did not want him to. I tried to support him, take care of him and distract him a little.”
Suarez believes that part of the reason Barca wanted to see him leave was because he had grown too close to Messi.
“I think they wanted to get me away from Messi’s side, perhaps it bothered them that I have a good relationship with Leo,” he said. “Maybe they wanted him not to be with me so much.”
The Uruguayan added that he does not believe Messi’s desire to leave Barcelona had anything to do with the club’s treatment of him, though Messi has since hit out at Barca’s behaviour toward the striker.
“That Messi wanted to leave Barcelona was not a gesture towards me. They should have respected his decision to leave,” Suarez added.
Suarez said that he will respect whatever Messi decides to do after the current campaign but he believes that if there is a change at the top, the Argentine will be more inclined to stay at Camp Nou.
“There may be the possibility that Messi plays for another club, but if he feels comfortable, happy again and another board arrives, he will want to continue at the club,” Suarez said.
“As a friend, I’ll be happy if he does well there and if he has to go to another club, I’ll be happy too.”