‘Messi will never leave Barca’
BARCELONA president Josep Maria Bartomeu predicted yesterday that Lionel Messi would not only extend his contract with the Catalan club but also end his playing days there too.
Speaking at the launch of a € 55 million (RM258m) a year shirt sponsorship deal Bartomeu told journalists he was “relaxed about Messi’s contract”.
With the clock ticking and only 18 months left on Messi’s deal the club want to extend it, as they did with Neymar and as they are trying to do with Luis Suarez.
“We are all convinced that he will end his playing days at the heart of this club. All the socios (stake-holding fans) believe it, it’s just a question of how we get over the line,” he said.
“This player has led us to our great sporting successes in recent years and he will continue to do so, he’s far from finished.” Spanish sports daily
had sown doubt over the 29-year-old Messi’s future on Tuesday with claims the Argentine was stalling over a new deal and flirting instead with the idea of joining his former coach Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
It was enough for Manchester United to admit they won’t be able to beat City to Messi’s signature if the superstar were to head to England.
United also wouldn’t rule out a move for the 29-yearold and they’d be able to match his wage demands. But while United chiefs reckon they can compete with City on a financial basis, the prospect of Messi reuniting with Guardiola is something they can’t offer.
Messi’s City connections do not stop at the manager but also include his best friend and international roomate, Sergio Aguero, chief executive Ferran Sorriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain, all but Aguero having known Messi at Barcelona.
An Old Trafford source told The Sun: “City would be the favourites if he were to one day leave, but we would obviously love to sign a player of that level.
“We can certainly compete on the cash front and Messi is an Adidas player like Paul Pogba, so we have our pluses.
“But all the same, we would not get involved in any bidding war unless Messi’s camp gave an indication that he was willing to come here.”
Messi is thought to be keen to end his career at the Nou Camp, but with contract talks stalling, the likes of United, City, Paris SaintGermain and China are monitoring him.
Brazilian superstar Neymar signed a new fiveyear contract with Barcelona in October that will keep the 24-year-old at the Spanish champions until 2021, saying he felt “at home” at the Camp Nou.
European Golden Shoe winner Luis Suarez said last week negotiations to extend his contract with Barcelona until 2021 were running smoothly. – AFP