Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of Barcelona, is making slow progress in his quest to extend Lionel Messi’s contract, which is set to expire on the 30th June 2018. Barca are not panicking quite yet, but they run the risk that Messi could open talks with other teams as of the 1st January of that year, when he will enter the final six months of his current deal. The two parties remain apart on several matters, yet Bartomeu maintains that ‘nobody is pessimistic’.

Messi is asking Barça for a lot of money; the figure could surpass €35 million. Equally, the Argentine knows that the club has a limit. He knows that last week, Ivan Rakitic signed a new contract, and that Suárez, Busquets, and Neymar put pen to paper last summer. He will also be aware that the club is working to keep Mar André ter Stegen and Andrés Iniesta at Camp Nou going forward.

The Club has a figure in mind, and Bartomeu will not want to stray far from it. He may seek to sell players from the current squad in order to open up funds to close the Messi deal, once and for all. Arda Turan may be the one who makes way.

Discussions are progressing slowly and those upstairs at Camp Nou understand that a final agreement is not yet imminent. Jorge Messi, the player’s father and agent, has been in Argentina during the last couple of weeks. With the agent so far away, Bartomeu and his associates will two options: direct negotiation via telephone, or through an intermediary that can thrash out a deal acceptable to both parties. The intermediary would need to have the absolute confidence of both Messi, and Barcelona, and manage any issues that may arise.

Based on recent deals handed out to Neymar, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano, Messi is expected to command a salary of £35million annually – a massive £670,000-a-week.

Messi and the club have been at an impasse in recent months, with former manager Pep Guardiola making the Argentinian his top target this summer.

But Barca team-mate Neymar is “sure” Messi will be staying with the Catalan club.

Speaking after the extraordinary win over Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, Neymar said: “Leo will renew.

“That is for sure.”




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