Madrid: Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Friday the Spanish giants are not worried about Lionel Messi’s future, despite the Argentine star being able to leave the club at the end of the season.
Lionel Messi, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner signed a new four-year deal with Barca in 2017, but Bartomeu says he is free to end his contract beforehand.
“Lionel Messi has a contract through to the 2020/21 season, but the player is able to leave Barca before the final season,” Bartomeu has been quoted as saying by Barcelona’s in-house television channel.
“It’s the same case as with the final contracts that Xavi, (Carles) Puyol and (Andres) Iniesta had. They are players who deserve that liberty, and we shouldn’t worry, as they are very committed to Barca. We want Messi to play for Barca through to 2021 and beyond. We are very calm about everything,” added Bartomeu
Lionel Messi, Barca’s record goalscorer, is currently out injured with a calf injury, with the team struggling in his absence, managing to collect just four points from their opening three La Liga matches.
Bartomeu also said that Neymar ‘did everything’ to force through a return to the Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain in the close season, but his club could ‘not meet’ the French champions’ demands.
The long-running transfer saga ended earlier this week with Neymar staying at PSG, who paid Barcelona a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million at the time) for the Brazilian in 2017.
“Neymar did everything possible because it (return to Barcelona) was what he wanted,” Bartomeu said. “I think now he has another strategy, another project and this season he will play for PSG.”
Neymar’s former club could not complete a deal to rescue the 27-year-old from his apparent nightmare in Paris, with the player so determined to return that sports daily ‘L’Equipe’ reported he offered to pay 20 million euros ($22 million) from his own pocket towards the fee.
It was reported Barca offered several of their players, including Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele, as makeweights in a possible deal, but Bartomeu said it was not the case.
“Barca had already planned their squad, but the opportunity to sign Neymar was one that came up in the market,” he said. “His signing was an extra – it wasn’t planned. Barca never offered our players. It was PSG who asked for them in the negotiations. The deal didn’t go through because the club could not meet PSG’s demands,” the Barca president informed.