Barcelona have 'obligation' to secure Lionel Messi's future, says president Josep Maria Bartomeu

Barcelona have 'obligation' to secure Lionel Messi's future, says president Josep Maria Bartomeu
Barcelona have 'obligation' to secure Lionel Messi's future, says president Josep Maria Bartomeu

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Barcelona have an "obligation" to offer Lionel Messi a new contract, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said as speculation continues to surround the Argentine superstar.

Messi's current deal is set to expire next summer and after a series of public altercations with Barca, reports emerged claiming the 33-year-old forward had called off negotiations over new terms.

The report said Messi was frustrated with the club's failure to build a winning squad and was tired of leaks from the club which paint him in a bad light. He was also reportedly upset at reports that the players had got Valverde fired.

Bartomeu has moved to dismiss the rumours and insisted that Barcelona will do all they can to ensure Messi commits his future to the club.

"Normally we do not explain the discussions with players but it is evident that we have the obligation to re-sign him", Bartomeu told Catalan radio station Rac1. "He is the best player in history. He has many years of football left.

"I see a relaxed Leo... He has said many times that he wants to finish [his career] at Barca."

Bartomeu, who must stand down in 2021, insisted that he sees Messi "retiring at Barca under another president because he will sign for another spell.

"I talk to the players very often. Not only with Leo, but also with the group, especially with the captains. Besides, lately we have a lot of topics to talk about."

Before beating Villarreal 4-1 on Sunday, Barcelona had drawn three of their previous four matches and slipped four points behind Real Madrid in the title race, putting manager Quique Setien under pressure.

"Setien will continue, of course," said Bartomeu. "I am quite happy with the development we are showing in the games despite the draws.

"Setien knows our DNA, the model and he has brought fresh air and new ideas and is working hard," said Bartomeu before adding that "coaches, evidently, need results.

"If La Liga, which will be difficult, is not won then comes the Champions League in August. We have to try to win one and then the other."

He said that Barca are trying to ensure home advantage for the second leg of the Champions League tie against Napoli. The clubs drew the first leg 1-1 in Naples on February 25 before the season was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are fighting for the second leg of the round of 16 to be played at the Camp Nou," Bartomeu said. "Uefa, if the situation is normal, knows that we would play here."

Updated: July 7, 2020 05:25 PM

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