Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insists Lionel Messi will not leave the club this summer as he wants to finish his career at the Camp Nou.
The Argentine has been heavily linked with an exit following Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Despite winning the competition four times, Messi has played in just one final since 2011 and the Argentine fears the club’s rebuild will take too long for him to get his hands on the trophy again during his playing career.
However, after confirming that Ronald Koeman will become the club’s next manager, Batomeu insisted that Messi will remain at the club next season and will not be sold.
‘Messi wants to finish his career at Barça, he has said it many times,’ Bartomeu told Barcelona TV.
‘I have spoken with Koeman and he has told me that Messi is the pillar of his project.
‘Messi has a contract at Barça until 2021, he knows it and we all know it. I speak regularly with Messi and especially with his father and they open them up. That there is a project, that a new coach will arrive and that he is counting on him.
‘Messi is still the best player in the world. It is number 1 and we have it. And each project that is done is done thinking that we have the best player in the world and in making his qualities grow. In the new project Koeman has Messi of all of them
Messi released an uncharacteristically scathing statement after the end of the La Liga season in which he warned his team-mates that they will lose against Napoli if their form doesn’t improve.
Bartomeu has confirmed Messi’s disappointment following the club’s Champions League exit but says the matter is over with and that the Argentine will lead a new era.
‘I have not spoken with Messi, yes with his father. Messi is disappointed and frustrated as we all are,’ continued Bartomeu.
‘We have already passed the duel. It has been painful but you have to get up and generate hope and think about how we will all remake it. And it is what we have to do. Since Sunday I started working for it. The coach will have to speak to the players when confirmed. The first thing you will need to do is talk to the captains.
‘When it is official I will call them and let them know and from here start preparing for next season. I have spoken with Messi’s father, with the agents of some players. We understand how they feel but that’s it, this continues ‘.
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