Lionel Messi 'Wants to Stay' with Barcelona Amid Contract Talks, Joan Laporta Says

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 1, 2021

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Tuesday that club legend Lionel Messi "wants to stay" at Camp Nou but a new contract hasn't been finalized.

Laporta, who won the Barca presidential election in March after retaining Messi was a major part of his campaign, told reporters:

"Talks are ongoing with Messi's people. As I have said, they're going well. We hope to keep making progress. It's not done, but I am convinced, like [Sergio Aguero] said, that they would like to play together here. I have always said the issue with Leo is not financial for him.

"[Messi] is showing a lot of understanding and wants to stay and have a competitive team that wins trophies. The sooner we have a decision the better, of course, but we're not in a rush."

Laporta previously held the role of Barcelona president from 2003 through 2010, and he used the prior relationship he built with Messi to help secure another term in charge.

"I am sure that if someone else wins the election [other than me], Messi won't stay at the club," Laporta said in March. "I have a good relationship with him; there's a lot of respect."

The future of Messi has predictably become a hot-button topic following the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, which saw the club finish third in La Liga and get eliminated in the Champions League Round of 16.

"We lost the league and there will be consequences," Laporta said Tuesday. "That's the level of demand there has to be here. We want to improve the team and there will be more [signings]. We're working on it. We need to balance the squad, and you will see what we're working on soon. Next week there will be more news."

The Blaugrana already added Aguero on a free transfer from Manchester City to start the process of revitalizing the squad.

Being able to keep Messi, who confirmed he sought an exit from Camp Nou last summer before a dispute about a contract clause led him to stay, would prevent a major void from opening up.

The 33-year-old Argentine international has continued to produce at an elite level, scoring 35 goals and tallying 11 assists in 41 appearances between La Liga and the Champions League this past term.

Alex Milne of the Mirror reported Tuesday the superstar forward is prepared to sign a two-year contract extension with the Spanish club.

Messi has yet to publicly declare his intentions with his current contract set to expire at the end of June, though.

For now, he's returned to South America to compete for Argentina in the 2021 Copa America tournament, which kicks off June 13.


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