Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has insisted he’s confident of keeping stars like Lionel Messi and Neymar at the club even though they could potentially be paid more for their services elsewhere.
Speaking to Rob Draper of the Mail on Sunday, Bartomeu was asked whether he was concerned some of the club’s key men may be tempted by lucrative offers elsewhere, especially with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola set to take over at Manchester City next season.
However, the president thinks the allure of his football club is enough to keep them on board.
We know Messi could earn more money in other teams, or Neymar, Busquets, Gerard Pique or Luis Suarez. Neymar, for example, when he came to Barcelona, had better offers from other teams. Suarez also had better offers.
But they decided to come to Barcelona because I think this club attracts players, because we are more than a club.
Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Guillem Balague recently raised some concerns among the Barcelona faithful, claiming the club in its current state cannot afford to hand new contracts to Messi, Neymar and their attacking companion Luis Suarez too.
Additionally, as noted in the report, both Messi and Neymar have been linked with moves away from Barcelona, with Draper putting it to Bartomeu that the latter may well be targeted by Manchester United, who are said to be willing to meet the Brazilian’s staggering €190 million release clause.
“Let’s see,” said Bartomeu. “We are confident because we know our players are very happy in our club, in our city. They enjoy sport, their profession, and they are in a group. So we are very confident those players are not moving, taking decisions because of money.”
Indeed, Messi, Neymar and Suarez are arguably the three best footballers on the planet at the moment and over the past 18 months have linked up tremendously. As noted by Squawka Football, the trio have become absolutely essential to the club’s success:
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez have now scored 58 of Barcelona's 67 La Liga goals this season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 20, 2016
Messi would arguably be the toughest of the three to prise away from the Camp Nou, given his longtime affiliation with the club.
Indeed, the man who discovered Messi and brought him to Barcelona, Josep Colomer, doesn’t think the 28-year-old will ever leave the Blaugrana either.
“I don’t see Messi in another club, because already he has realised with Argentina it’s not the same Lionel Messi,” he said, per Neil Custis of the Sun. “Messi is Messi in the context of Barcelona. I’m not sure he is going to be the same Messi in another context.”
Here’s a reminder of some of Messi’s best moments from 2015, in which he helped Barca to win five trophies:
Which player will leave Barcelona first?
The Argentine is admired in Catalonia and still looks as though he has much more to achieve yet. As Bartomeu noted, Messi recently stated he would never play for another European club, potentially paving the way for a plethora of further honours, both with the team and as an individual.
Neymar’s contract has just over two years left to run and given murmurings about teams potentially meeting his release clause, when he does renew it’ll likely include a bolstered trigger. That’d further cement his status as an indispensable asset with the Blaugrana and eliminate any slender chances of a move elsewhere.