BARCELONA president Jose Maria Bartomeu has responded to the continued rumours of Lionel Messi’s imminent departure from the Spanish giants at the end of next season.
Reports emerged about two weeks ago suggesting the 33-year-old is unhappy with the club’s leadership, but Bartomeu reiterated that Messi will end his career at the club. La Liga’s record goalscorer is in a contract which will see him stay until the end of next season, with the Catalans said to have begun holding talks with the attacker about an extension, contrary to previous media reports suggesting that such had been placed on ice.
Bartomeu confirmed that initial talks between the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and the club are positive with all signs pointing towards him remaining at Camp Nou for the foreseeable future. “We’ve spoken, we are speaking and we will continue to speak with Messi,” Bartomeu told TV3 via Marca. “He wants to finish his career here, we will definitely renew with him, I am in no doubt that he will stay here.”
Messi became the first player in Spanish top-flight history to score 20 goals and assist in 20 or more in the same season, which came after he teed up teammate Arturo Vidal for Barça’s only goal in their win away to Real Valladolid, on Saturday. Quique Setién admitted after that match that the Barça superstar needs a rest, something of a conundrum at the time, as they hold on to a sliver of hope to defend their La Liga title.
Messi has scored 27 goals in all competitions, so far, this term and contributed a further 25 assists as he continues his charge for the 2020 Ballon d’Or, which if he were to capture it, would mean an unbeatable seventh title of his career. Watching his compatriot with a keen eye, Argentine star Luis García backed Messi to continue playing until at least 2025.
“Why not? The way he is playing, adapting his style to the game is impressive. Every year he shows us something different but keeps up the same amount of goals, of assists. Even getting more every year!” Garcia told La Liga. “He’s adapting, he doesn’t spend so much time upfront because he knows it’s harder, so he drops a little more … He adapts his game to what the team needs in every game … I could see him playing in 2025, easily!”