FC Barcelona has “the obligation to re-sign” its forward Lionel Messi following the expiration of his contract in 2021, the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Catalan radio station Rac1, according to a translation provided by AFP. Bartomeu also dubbed the captain of the Argentina national team “the best player in history” who has “many years of football left”.
During the weekend, Barca's president also told the Spanish network Movistar that the La Liga club’s forward will finish his football career with Barcelona, citing Messi’s own words.
“I'm not going to explain the details because we are focused on the competition and we are negotiating with many players, but Messi has explained to us that he wants to stay and so we're going to enjoy him for much longer,” Bartomeu was quoted as saying.
The comments came following a report by Spain’s radio network Cadena Ser that the record winner of six Ballon d’Or awards was mulling the possibility of leaving Barca over the club’s decision to fire manager Ernesto Valverde, his alleged fatigue with “permanent leaks”, as well as some other issues.
The footballer did not publicly address the rumours about his potential leave so far. However, many linked the report with his earlier public frustration with some figures at the club, who were allegedly pressuring players to take salary cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, which Messi argued his teammates were willing to do anyway.
“Before anything, we want to clear up that our desire was always to have a salary reduction that seems appropriate because we understand perfectly that it's an exceptional situation and we're the first ones who ALWAYS have helped the club when it's asked of us,” he argued in a statement published on his Instagram page in the end of March.
The 33-year-old Argentinian star has been with the Barcelona team since his youth, firstly joining the ranks of Barca’s division of under-14th players in the early 2000s. Last week, he scored the 700th goal of his career during Barcelona's match against Atletico Madrid.