Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has squashed rumors making rounds in the media that Lionel Messi will quit the club after his current contract.
Image: Josep Maria Bartomeu
The 55-year-old football boss spoke to newsmen from his London home, where he’s currently enjoying vacation.
Messi was offered a new contract last November after a prolonged negotiation between his agents and the club although his previous deal ends in June 2018.
The Argentina international football and 5-time Ballon d’Or winner had his contract extended until 2021, which marks 17 years of his trophy-laden career as a first team player at Camp Nou.
“We make history,” said Bartomeu to Bloomberg during the interview.
“We are a club that bets on good football, and we have a unique style of play dictated by Messi, who is the world’s best player and our key player.”
Mr. Bartomeu also made reference to Andres Iniesta, who he said, is an example of a good footballer with rare quality and great reputation on and off the pitch.
In his words: “We want him [Iniesta] here not as a player, but as a legend in the future.
“And with Messi I hope it’s the same,” he added. “Now he’s got a four-year contract, but I don’t think it will be his last with Los Blancos.”
Image: Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta celebrate a goal against Chelsea in their Champions League Round of 16 game which ended 2-2 on Tuesday 20/02/2018
With Neymar’s exit from Barcelona last summer, price tags on footballers around major leagues seem to have skyrocketed, forcing a gloomy feeling in the club director. He expressed sadness for the resultant inflation in the transfer market, saying he’s unsure if there will be price stability later.
“I really wish trades in the football market will stabilize soon, but I am not sure if it’s right to hope,” said the Barcelona president and Spanish entrepreneur.
The Catalonia-born football administrator also emphasized that the influx of wealthy businessmen and oil-rich states has complicated sales.
“They are purchasing football clubs and making huge investments in the sport with so much ease,” he said.
“It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult to go to the market and sign the best players.”
Bartomeu revealed that Barca’s strategy is to sign young players, teach them the rudiments of football and provide them with a chance to showcase their talents in the first team, adding that the club’s new signings in the upcoming summer transfer window will be facilitated by cash scooped from sale of “match rusty” players.
Barcelona invested more in new players to strengthen the team after Neymar’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain, and Bartomeu said La Blaugranas have a strategic plan to invest a further 60 million euros in the summer.
“The money will be generated by player sales, including our expectations to secure naming rights for the Camp Nou,” he said, also making reference to their sale of marketing rights to Beko.
“The total investment [by Beko in training shirt sponsorship] will be 600m euros,” he explained, “the highest contract deal any club has ever completed in the city of Barcelona.
“We are working with two or three companies and probably the agreement can contribute to half of the investment.”