Messi has the option 'to leave' Barca at end of season

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner signed a new four-year deal with Barca in 2017, but Bartomeu says he is free to end his contract beforehand. (Reuters File Photo)

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Friday the Spanish giants are not worried about Lionel Messi's future, despite the Argentinian star being able to leave the club at the end of the season.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner signed a new four-year deal with Barca in 2017, but Bartomeu says he is free to end his contract beforehand.

"Leo Messi has a contract through to the 2020/21 season, but the player is able to leave Barca before the final season," Bartomeu told Barcelona's in-house television channel.

"It's the same case as with the final contracts that Xavi, (Carles) Puyol and (Andres) Iniesta had. They are players who deserve that liberty, and we shouldn't worry, as they are very committed to Barca.

"We want Messi to play for Barca through to 2021 and beyond. We are very calm."

Messi, Barca's record goalscorer, is currently out injured with a calf injury, with the team struggling in his absence, managing to collect just four points from their opening three La Liga matches.

Neymar 'did everything' to force Barca return

Bartomeu also said that Neymar "did everything" to force through a return to the Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain in the close season, but his club could "not meet" the French champions' demands.

The long-running transfer saga ended earlier this week with Neymar staying at PSG, who paid Barcelona a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million at the time) for the Brazilian in 2017.

"Neymar did everything possible because it was what he wanted," Bartomeu told Barca's in-house television channel.

"I think now he has another strategy, another project and this season he will play for PSG."

His former club could not complete a deal to rescue the 27-year-old from his apparent nightmare in Paris, with Neymar so determined to return that sports daily L'Equipe reported he offered to pay 20 million euros ($22 million) from his own pocket towards the fee.

It was reported Barca offered several of their players, including Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele, as makeweights in a possible deal, but Bartomeu said it was not the case.

"Barca had already planned their squad, but the opportunity to sign Neymar was one that came up in the market," he said. "His signing was an extra -- it wasn't planned.

"Barca never offered our players. It was PSG who asked for them in the negotiations.

"The deal didn't go through because the club could not meet PSG's demands."

Since moving to the Parc des Princes, Neymar has appeared in barely half of his club's matches due to suspensions and injuries.

Despite scoring 51 goals in 58 games in all competitions, Neymar has failed to inspire PSG to Champions League glory, with the capital club falling in the last 16 to Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively in his two seasons in France.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get the top news in your inbox
GET IT
Comments (+)