Lionel Messi Eyes New Barcelona Contract, Plays Down Cristiano Ronaldo Rivalry

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 2, 2014

Barcelona star Lionel Messi will soon sign a renewed contract at the Camp Nou according to a tweet sent from the official club account on Thursday.

The news comes as somewhat of a surprise given that, as reported by ESPN FC in May, it is only months since the Catalan club confirmed he had last signed a new revised deal that would see him through to 2018.

According to the reports, that deal took the Argentine's salary to around €20 million a year.

The comments came during a presentation of a new agreement between Barcelona and club partners Gillette, for which Messi is set to take on an ambassadorial role.

During the press conference, the World Cup Golden Ball winner also insisted there is no rivalry between himself and Cristiano Ronaldo, despite frequent media reports on the matter.

The club reported his comments with the following tweet:

Having suffered criticism for his below-par performances last season, Messi has responded in fine style under new manager Luis Enrique this campaign to help Barcelona to an excellent run of results.

In September alone, per WhoScored.com statistics, Messi hit somewhere near his best form of recent seasons to score four goals and provide seven assists as Barcelona showed signs of returning to former levels.

Indeed, despite a 3-2 defeat in Paris earlier this week, the Argentine still set the game alight with a wonderfully taken first-half goal that drew him level with Ronaldo as the second top-scorer in Champions League history.

Perhaps predictably, given the duo's constant desire to out-do each other, it took the Portuguese just a day to pull ahead once more.

At present, only Real Madrid legend Raul has scored more than the pair in the competition with a total of 71 goals per Goal.com's Ryan Keaney. Messi currently lies just three short on 68, while the Portuguese is now one closer with 69 goals to his name.

It is the similar ability of the pair to completely destroy opponents that has set them apart from the rest of world football, sharing the past six Ballon d'Or titles between them. It is that constant competition for individual awards which has understandably led to a feeling of intense rivalry between the pair, at least in media reporting.

Messi's latest comments come on the day that the Express' Alex Harris reports Portuguese newspaper O Jogo as stating the pair will come head-to-head next month in an international friendly between Portugal and Argentina at Old Trafford.

The duo have previously met just once at international level, with Messi scoring a late winner from the penalty spot in Geneva in 2011.

Regardless of quite why Messi's contract is up for discussion just months after signing a new deal, it is clear why Barcelona would be willing to go to great lengths to tie down their star man.

The Express' Alex Harris reported last week that a Catalan TV3 programme called Efectivament were claiming that Messi had been the subject of a €150 million summer bid from Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.

Whether truthful or not, Barcelona were compelled to dismiss the speculation and it is perhaps no surprise that his contract is now being mentioned again so quickly. Clubs cannot afford to part with players of such ability and Messi is well within his right to maximise that earning potential.

For as long as he continues to link well with younger stars and perform at his current levels, Barcelona will not hesitate to keep extending his ties with a club that has been his home since the age of 13.

Related

    Report: Eric Bailly Very Happy at Man Utd Despite Speculation

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Report: Eric Bailly Very Happy at Man Utd Despite Speculation

    via men

    Napoli Hire Carlo Ancelotti

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Napoli Hire Carlo Ancelotti

    Rory Marsden
    via Bleacher Report

    Ancelotti Asks to Sign Benzema at Napoli

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Ancelotti Asks to Sign Benzema at Napoli

    via AS.com

    Maurizio Sarri Leaves Napoli

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Maurizio Sarri Leaves Napoli

    Rory Marsden
    via Bleacher Report