Josep Maria Bartomeu has ended any uncertainty surrounding Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona by revealing that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is already playing under the terms of a new contract.
Messi’s original deal expires at the end of the 2017-18 season and earlier this summer the Argentina forward agreed to remain with the Catalan giants until 2021.
But following the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, Messi’s failure to put pen to paper on the new contract raised doubts about his future.
Bartomeu has now allayed the fears of Barcelona fans, however, by revealing that Messi is already bound by the terms of an extended deal.
‘We will take the photo with Messi’s signature, hopefully before the end of the year, but the contract has been signed by his father, who has the power of his image rights,’ Bartomeu told 8TV.
‘This contract is signed until 2021 and he is already playing under it.’
Messi netted twice in Barcelona’s 3-0 Champions League win over Juventus on Tuesday.
The Argentina international has already scored eight goals in six appearances for Ernesto Valverde’s side this season to help take them to the top of La Liga.
And the new Barcelona boss has also been boosted by the news that legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta is set to stay at the club.
Iniesta, 33, is out of contract at the end of this season and, like Messi, has yet to sign a new deal. But Bartomeu insists the midfielder will be given an ‘indefinite’ contract until he decides to hang up his boots.
‘The agreement with Iniesta will be special, it will be different just because it is him, I won’t reveal exactly what because it is part of private negotiations, but with (Iniesta’s agent) Ramon Sostres, we have been talking for a long time,’ he said.
‘Iniesta isn’t just a reference point for us, but also for the young supporters, he has earned the right to play here until he decides not to any more, Andres is critical to this club and the intention is that this extension will be an indefinite contract so that he can finish whenever he desires.’
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