Barcelona vice-president Javier Faus has insisted Lionel Messi will remain at the club, despite fears he might leave the Camp Nou after being prosecuted for alleged tax evasion by a judge in the nearby municipality of Gava.
Faus is ready to offer his star player the support needed to get through such a challenging time and he calmed fears of Leo's potential exit during a presentation of the Catalan club's annual returns on Tuesday, reported by Marca:
"Messi is very well supported by his family and the (Barca) president is also keeping an eye out," said Faus. "We're not afraid of him leaving."
Faus also stated the club is ready to "help in any way possible," aiding the duo's battle against charges that were first revealed last year. Barca believe Messi "won't be tempted to do a runner," noted in Marca's report.
It is alleged the duo defrauded Spanish tax authorities of over €4 million via an elaborate network of companies reportedly designed to beat the system, per David Kent of the Daily Mail.
Whenever Messi encounters trouble—be it poor form, an injury or something more serious—reports begin to swell suggesting he could be on his way out. Josep Maria Bartomeu, the club's president, recently indicated the player is pleased to have inked a new contract, reported by Kent.
"We gave him a new contract not long ago and he's very happy," said Bartomeu.
Although Messi's immediate happiness could be affected by the ongoing investigation, he signed the new deal knowing such charges were a possibility. This is something that has to be dealt with whether he stays or goes, so it is troublesome to suggest the potential court case will alter his future plans.
Will Lionel Messi spend his entire playing career at Barcelona?
Faus' comments nip any inkling of a future exit in the bud, a real positive for the Blaugrana. Messi scored 28 La Liga goals during an injury-ravaged 2013-14 campaign and highlighted his quality with four strikes during Argentina's ascension to the 2014 World Cup final, per WhoScored.com. Even when unfit or off beat, he remains a consistent match-winner.
The spotlight is likely to intensify as Messi's latest situation progresses. Barcelona will hope he enters the new campaign refreshed and ready to lead their title charge, but he'll certainly need the support of those around him to perform. Barca's career-long dedication to Messi has never waned, so it's unlikely they would let the prolific forward leave now.
Luis Enrique will hope to lead his developing squad to silverware next season, a feat Messi can undoubtedly play a major role in if he manages to quash any frustrations surrounding problems away from the field.