Barcelona president Josep Maria Bar to meu says he will personally deal with Lionel Messi’s contract renewal after a week that saw more concerns raised about the Argentine’s future at the club.
CEO Oscar Grau suggested the club would have to use “common sense” when negotiating the finances of the contract in comments which some interpreted as a move to get Messi to lower his wage demands.
Pere Gratacoswas then removed from his director role at theclubon Friday after saying Messi “would not be as good without without Andres Iniesta,Neymarand Gerard Pique.”
However, Bartomeu has reassured the club’s supporters that negotiations remain on track and that both parties are keen to reach an agreement as soon possible.
“There are no nerves at all,” he said on Saturday. “I want to reassure everyone about that. I will handle the talks inpersonto ensure Messi stays here.
“Everythingwill be done with discretion. He’s the best player in the world, we want him to stay here and we’re working on that. We’re talking with his people, we want him to stay here and he wants to stay.
“It is an essential renewal for theclub. The sooner it’s finalised, the better. We will do whatever it takes. All parties want to come to an agreement, so there has to be a happy ending. Hopefully he retires at theclub.
“So I want to reassure the supporters that there are no nerves. We are very aware of what is at stake.”
Bartomeu added that he felt Grau’s comments had been misinterpreted, but he admitted that Gratacos erred when talking about Messi after Friday’s Copa del Rey draw in Madrid.
“After talking to him he realised that what he said wasn’t right and he won’t represent theclub[as a director] anymore,” he said.
“Messi is the best player ever and he shows it in every game. A football team has11players, but Messi is the leader. [Gratacos’ remark] was not appropriate, but he will continue with his daily work [at La Masia], which is excellent.”
Messi’s contract expires in 2018 and this week’s drama led to further reports thatManchester Cityand Manchester United could reawaken their interest in him.
However, Bartomeu’s comments echo the widely held belief inside theclubthat Messi, like Neymar and Luis Suarezlast year, will pen new terms in the coming months.