Josep Maria Bartomeu Comments on Lionel Messi's Future With Barcelona

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2016

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi looks on during the Spanish league football match Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Sevilla on November 6, 2016. / AFP / JORGE GUERRERO        (Photo credit should read JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says he believes star attacker Lionel Messi will stay at the Camp Nou club for the rest of his career. 

Messi's contract expires in the summer of 2018. Yet Bartomeu has rejected the idea that the prolific Argentinian maestro will move on from Barca, even though Messi still hasn't agreed a new contract.

The Catalan club's president was speaking Wednesday at an event to mark Barcelona's new shirt deal with Japanese manufacturer Rakuten, and he made it clear how Messi has to stay, per BBC Sport"All of Barca believe this is how it has to be, because he is the player that in the last few years has brought us sporting success."

Bartomeu is adamant Messi will finish his career as a Barcelona player.
Bartomeu is adamant Messi will finish his career as a Barcelona player.LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

The freshly inked deal with Rakuten is said to be worth approximately £200 million, per the BBC. It should ensure Barcelona's continued standing and success at or near the summit of European football.

However, Bartomeu emphasised how Messi remains the most significant figure in Barca's bid for trophies: "I believe we've got a team with incredible players, all of them. There is nonetheless a leader of course, Leo Messi, he is well known and popular all over the world."

Few can deny Messi's influence remains vital in Barcelona, despite the presence of fellow marquee strikers Luis Suarez and Neymar. He's still the outrageously gifted match-winner who can decide any game in an instant with one sudden burst of stunning skill, creative verve and classy finishing.

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Messi has already scored 15 goals in La Liga and UEFA Champions League action this season, per WhoScored.com. Yet it's never just about goals with Messi.

He's also one of the most consistent suppliers of goals in Spain, according to Squawka:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Most LaLiga assists since beginning of last season: Luis Suárez (18) Lionel Messi (18) Neymar (16) Toni Kroos (16) Koke (16) https://t.co/T8KLc0BfTE

Still, Messi's current contract situation has raised doubts over his long-term future at the Camp Nou. Recently, Spanish newspaper Marca (h/t Press Association Sport, via ESPN FC), speculated Messi could even move on.

Yet Bartomeu underlined how nobody connected with La Blaugrana is worried Messi will depart any time soon: "We're all convinced, we're all positive Leo Messi will end his sporting career in Barca."

Keeping Messi is indeed essential to Barca's continued success.

The club would still compete at the top end of the game without Messi, but the kind of dominance he's inspired, including four Champions League trophies, wouldn't be possible without the lethal No. 10.


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