Barcelona President Responds to Lionel Messi Exit Talk

Lionel Messi

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Barcelona resident Josep Maria Bartomeu has played down a report Lionel Messi could leave the club at the end of next season.

Bartomeu was asked about Messi’s future at Barcelona after Sunday’s 4-1 win over Villarreal in La Liga and made it clear he is confident the captain will stay, according to Sergi Sole at Mundo Deportivo.

“I am not going to give details of the negotiations but he has said many times that he wants to end his career at Barça. We are now focused on competitions and there are negotiations with many players. Messi wants to continue at Barça and wants to end here. He has many years left and we are going to enjoy him for longer.”

Messi is contracted to Barcelona until the end of the 2020-21 campaign. Manu Carreno at Cadena SER has reported the Argentina international has halted contract renewal talks after becoming frustrated with the Catalan giants and wants to leave.

Messi Highlights His Importance Again

Bartomeu’s comments came after another inspirational performance from Messi in what was a must-win game for the Catalan giants at the Estadio de la Cerámica.

The 33-year-old set up goals for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to take his tally of assists to 19 for the season, a new personal best for the Argentine.

Messi did also get the ball in the back of the net in the second half, only to see his effort ruled out for an offside by Arturo Vidal in the build-up.

The result means Barcelona stay second in the table in Spain’s top flight but cut the gap to leaders Real Madrid to four points with four games left.

Bartomeu Also Backs Setien

Barca president Bartomeu also backed under-fire manager Quique Setien on Sunday night. Setien has only been in charge since January but has come under scrutiny after Barca’s title challenge faltered.

Yet the 61-year-old retains the confidence of the Barcelona board, according to Bartomeu.

“I know there are rumors. They are false. Victory has not saved him. He is doing a great job. He has our complete confidence. This league must be fought to the end.

“We have seen a very dynamic Barça with many opportunities to score goals. We have been able to score more. Today they had fun playing, we liked them. This is the way of a champion team.

“In this post-confinement stage it has been difficult and different and returning to competition is not easy. The rhythm is what you start to see. It is more exciting. There are still matches left and then comes the Champions League.”

Sunday’s match saw a much-improved performance from Barcelona that will alleviate some of the increasing pressure on Setien. The club still looks unlikely to win La Liga but will have another shot at glory in the Champions League which resumes in August.

READ NEXT: Messi and Suarez Combine for Stunning Barcelona Goal [WATCH]

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