Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu responded to a storm of speculation by saying on Tuesday that the club had “an obligation to re-sign” Lionel Messi, calling him “the best player in history”.
“Normally we do not explain the discussions with players but it is evident that we have the obligation to re-sign him”, Bartomeu told Catalan radio station Rac1. “He is the best player in history. He has many years of football left.”
Bartomeu also said Barca coach Quique Setien would keep his job despite a run of unconvincing form since La Liga’s restart that has seen the reigning champions lose top spot to Real Madrid. The president said he was happy with the direction of the club and maintained he had been right to replace Ernesto Valverde in January.
Bartomeu also said Barcelona are trying to have the second leg of the Champions League second leg against Napoli played at the Camp Nou instead of at a neutral venue.
Last week, another radio station, Cadena Ser, reported that Messi had broken off negotiations on extending his contract, which runs until 2021, and was thinking of leaving Barcelona.
The report said Messi was frustrated with the club’s failure to build a winning squad and was tired of leaks from the club which paint him in a bad light. He was also reportedly upset at reports that the players had got Valverde fired.