Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has admitted that he hasn't been quite himself this season, and his failed attempt to leave Barcelona in the summer plays a big part in his dip in form.

It may be remembered that Messi shocked the entire football community back in August when he expressed his desire to leave the Catalan giants. However, Barcelona stood their ground, stating that Messi is no longer allowed to exercise a free exit clause in his contract because it was past the due date, even though the end of the season was delayed by several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Barcelona insisted that the 700m euro (£624m) release clause had to be met if Messi decided to join another club. With the financial blow dealt by the pandemic, not many clubs were willing or can even afford the release clause.

Messi was forced to back down instead of dragging the club to court. This meant that he was forced to play out the remaining year left in his contract in a place where he no longer wanted to be.

"I dragged everything into the start of the season a bit. The truth is right now I'm feeling fine, but in the summer I had a very bad time," Messi told La Sexta as quoted by the BBC.

Messi's struggles translated to the pitch, with Barcelona sitting in mid-table for the first couple of months after the season started. They now sit only in 5th place, which is not terrible but not the usual position that Barca enjoys.

Messi was underwhelming in the first few matches, managing to score mostly form the penalty spot instead of open play. To date, he has only recorded his ninth goal in 17 appearances this season, which is mediocre for someone of his calibre.

With his contract expiring next June, Messi will be able to start to negotiate with interested clubs by the January transfer window. It can be expected that speculations about his fate will dominate the headlines once the new year rolls in.

Lionel Messi and Josep Maria Bartomeu
If Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu had not blocked him, Lionel Messi looked certain to leave the club AFP / Manu Fernandez