Barcelona have sent out a firm statement regarding their intention to ensure Lionel Messi remains their player for the long haul.
On Friday afternoon, club president Sandro Rosell was speaking at the official announcement of Barca's new shirt sponsorship with Intel, but talk predictably shifted to matters on the pitch—more specifically, the future of their Argentinian talisman.
Per the club's official website, Rosell said:
Whilst I am President, we'll do everything possible - and the impossible - to keep Messi at the Club. We'll do it intelligently and it really would be very difficult for Messi to leave for another team - really impossible.
The quotes were also published on the club's official Twitter feed:
The affirmation comes in the fallout of comments made by Barcelona vice president Javier Faus, who earlier this week commented that Messi wouldn't be offered another extension in the near future after signing a new deal in February, he told Catalonia Radio (h/t Dermot Corrigan of ESPN).
In a more recent report, Corrigan goes on to explain that these comments were made in relation to the suggestion that summer signing Neymar is now the highest-paid player at the Camp Nou.
There is increasing talk in Spain that Messi, who has struggled for form (by his own stellar standards) and fitness this season, is becoming stressed at the pressure he is put under by Barcelona to play when not fully fit.
Messi has gained an "untouchable" status for the greater part of his 13-year tenure in Spain, but the current campaign has been one of his least enjoyable, due largely to injury and tiresome speculation over disputes with the club.
Talksport recently argued that the sale of Barca's biggest name is a possibility:
Rosell has attempted to bring an end to the story with a powerful statement that should assure the club's fans. Clearly, in Rosell's eyes, any financial benefits the club might gain from a sale are far outweighed by actually having the superstar on their books.
So confident is the Barca boardroom member of keeping hold of his prized possession, in fact, that the term "impossible" has been used dissuade speculation. Certainly it would now be an embarrassing U-turn if the club did lose Messi in the near future.
The South American's own focus is on getting fit for the new year, just months out from the World Cup. Barcelona will hope the strength of Rosell's word rings true when Messi returns from next summer's Brazil festival, back to club matters.