Lionel Messi 'Not for Sale' Declares Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu

Michael Wade@michaelwade_Analyst IIIJanuary 27, 2014

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina, gestures to his fans before the match against  Athletic Bilbao during their Spanish League soccer match, at San Mames stadium in Bilbao, northern Spain, Saturday, April 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Alvaro Barrientos

Lionel Messi is not for sale and will be offered a new contract very soon, Barcelona's president has said.

Josep Maria Bartomeu's claims were made in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1 and reported by the club's official website:

We want to sit down, without any rush, with Leo’s father - it’s not something that’s happening tomorrow, we have plenty of time, but we will do what we have to to ensure he’s the best paid player.

As reported by Dermot Corrigan for ESPN FC, much speculation surrounded Messi's future following a falling out with Barca vice-president Javier Faus in September. At the time, the Argentine said:

Mr. Faus is someone who knows nothing about football, and wants to run Barca like it was a business, which it is not. Barca is the best team in the world, and deserves to be represented by the best directors. And I remind him that neither I nor anyone from my camp have asked for a new contract -- and he knows that well.

Appointed following Sandro Rosell's resignation last week, Bartomeu has made a priority of clarifying Messi's future at the Camp Nou.

The Argentine was recently linked with big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, per Sky Sports.

In December, Manchester City duo Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero even tried to encourage the Argentina international to swap La Liga for the Premier League, according Paul Gorst in the Mirror.

Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure tried to tempt Lionel Messi to Man City
Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure tried to tempt Lionel Messi to Man CityMichael Regan/Getty Images

However, per Thom Drake in the Daily Mail, Bartomeu is keen to make Messi the best-paid player in world football alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, who earns a reported £16.5 million a year.

Barcelona have exactly the right attitude to keeping Messi, and have acted sensibly to appease him and keep him onside since the bust-up with Faus.

Messi is happy at Barca, and the club have done nothing to unsettle him as they face continued challenges to remain as Europe's top side following the emergence of Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain as big powers.

Per the official Barcelona website, Messi played his 400th club game as they beat Levante in the Copa del Rey last week.

He is symbolic of the club, and despite losing his Ballon d'Or crown to Cristiano Ronaldo, he is still the best player in the world and crucial to the club's future success.