Barcelona President Says Lionel Messi Is Club's 'Pillar' Amid Transfer Rumors

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2020

Barcelona's Lionel Messi during the Champions League quarterfinal match between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez/Pool)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

There is plenty of upheaval and uncertainty at FC Barcelona following their season ending with a demoralizing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals. But club president Josep Bartomeu seems confident Lionel Messi is staying put.  

"Messi wants to end his career at Barca, he has said that many times," Bartomeu told BarcaTV on Tuesday (h/t ESPN). "I've spoken to [potential incoming manager Ronald Koeman] about him and he has told me Messi will be the pillar of his project. Messi has a contract with Barca until 2021. I speak to him and his father regularly and they know that we have a solid project, that a new coach is coming and that he will count on him."

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Barça president ruled out the chance of opening talks with Man United to Ousmane Démbélé: “He’ll stay. Messi, Ter Stegen, Lenglet, Semedo, De Jong, Griezmann and Démbélé are not for sale”. J. Bartomeu also added that “Coutinho can stay here, if Koeman want him”. 🔵🔴 #transfers

Bartomeu added during the appearance that negotiations with Koeman were ongoing and nothing was finalized but "if there is no change then we will announce Koeman as our next coach and he will lead this team and these players forward with a different type of project, led by a coach who all Barca fans know." 

There have been questions about whether Messi might try to leave Barcelona after the embarrassing end to their Champions League campaign and failure to win La Liga, with Graham Hunter of Sky Sports saying the transfer fee for the 33-year-old legend would be €100 million. 

"He doesn't want to leave for more money or just to be out of the mess that is going on around him, he wants to win the Champions League. It's a very complicated equation to work out how he leaves, or to where he might go," Hunter said. "Of course, he is waiting to see the developments [regarding the board and manager] and whether he believes that might make a difference to him staying and winning at Barcelona."

Barca have already seen major changes since that loss and since a trophy-less 2019-20 season, with manager Quique Setien sacked and sporting director Eric Abidal agreeing to terminate his contract. And a number of veteran players like Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal could be on the way out. 

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Bartomeu says Koeman has told him Messi will be “keystone” of new team but some other older players need to get “honorable goodbye”

Messi hasn't slowed down much, with 25 goals and 21 assists in 33 total La Liga appearances this season. He remains Barca's best player and, as of Tuesday, a major part of the club's future plans.