Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said that captain Lionel Messi will end his career at the Catalan football club, dismissing a report saying the Argentine no longer wishes to renew his current contract when it expires next year.
“Messi has said he will end his working and footballing life at Barca,” Bartomeu told Spanish network Movistar after his side beat Villarreal 4-1 away on Sunday in the Spanish La Liga.
“I’m not going to explain the details because we are focused on the competition and we are negotiating with many players but Messi has explained to us that he wants to stay and so we’re going to enjoy him for much longer.”
The 33-year-old Messi, who signed his last contract in 2017, has become more outspoken against the club’s hierarchy in the last year and radio station Cadena Ser said last Thursday he is unhappy with how Barca is being run and wants to leave in 2021.
They took an early lead when Pau Torres turned in Jordi Alba’s cross but Gerard Moreno levelled for Villarreal.
Messi brilliantly won the ball in midfield before feeding Luis Suarez — who curled in from 20 yards — and the Barca captain then backheeled to Antoine Griezmann, who scored a magnificent chip.
Ansu Fati blasted in a late fourth.
Barca’s front three of Messi, Suarez and Griezmann clicked perfectly in one of their best performances in recent months.
Barca are four points behind Real Madrid with four games to go and need their old rivals to slip up at least twice to have a hope of retaining their title.
Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday thanks to a late penalty by Sergio Ramos.
The spot-kick was awarded following a VAR review while Athletic had their own penalty appeal turned down and Bartomeu said the technology was not being applied fairly since the season resumed following the novel coronavirus stoppage. — AFP.