Barcelona president has 'no doubt' Lionel Messi will commit future but Neymar return depends on player-exchange deal

Argentine superstar's contract expires next summer and talks over new deal reportedly broke down earlier this month

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu reiterated his confidence that Lionel Messi will commit his future to the club, while admitting the possibility of re-signing Neymar will depend on a player-exchange deal.

Messi's current contract is set to expire in June 2021 and local radio station Cadena Ser reported at the start of July that the Argentine had broken off talks with the club.

"Messi has said many times that he wants to retire here and I have no doubt that he will re-sign," said Bartomeu in an interview published by Barcelona's sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo.

The reported collapse in negotiations comes after a series of public disagreements between Messi and the club's board. He reacted publicly when sporting director Eric Abidal appeared to blame the players for the sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde in January.

Messi also led the fightback from the Barcelona players over a dispute with the board in March regarding pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Barcelona collapsed after La Liga resumed, dropping to second as Real Madrid took the title, with the 33-year-old forward calling the team "inconsistent" and "weak".

Last summer, Messi also criticised Barca's transfer activity after an attempt to sign Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain failed.

Speaking on the possibility of the Brazilian forward making his way back to the Camp Nou, Bartomeu said any major transfer business would depend on including players in any deals.

"Now we are making decisions and the players, if they do not come as part of a player exchange players, it is very difficult for them to come," Bartomeu said.

Bartomeu said another priority was persuading German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, whose contract expires in 2022, to sign a new deal "not only for his quality as a goalkeeper but for his personality".

"He's a pillar of the dressing room and of the future," he said. "At 28 he's one of the three best in the world."

He said he was less concerned about Uruguayan Luis Suarez, who is a free agent next year because "depending on the number of games he plays, the contract automatically renews for the 2021-22 season".

Bartomeu also said talks with Inter Milan over Argentinian striker Lautaro Martinez were "at a standstill".

Published: July 26, 2020 04:02 PM

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