Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu claims Lionel Messi has in fact signed a new contract, blaming “schedule problems” for the delay in announcing the news officially.
The Catalan club’s star man had been under contract at Camp Nou until 2018, with speculation mounting that he will look to leave as negotiations over improved terms continued to drag on.
That is not a view shared by Bartomeu, however, who is adamant that Messi had already signed the contract back in June, when Goal reported that a deal was close to being finalised.
He told Sport: “It’s all agreed and signed. There are three contracts. One with the Messi Foundation, which is signed with the president of the Foundations and the player’s brother.
“There’s an image rights contract with Messi, which is father has signed, who is the administrator of his company, and the employment contract, which his father has signed, who has the power to do so.
When asked what is missing to be able to announce the new deal officially, Bartomeu added: “[What is missing is] that Leo arrives and we have the official photograph and the protocol of the signature.
“The contract’s signed, it’s valid from the month of June, from June 30, the same day that he got married, curiously. It’s been audited because it goes into the accounts for last season.
“The renewal is included in the accounts for the closing of this season. There are no problems. It’s just the protocol of the signature. We’re relaxed. We’ve had schedule problems [which is why it hasn’t already been announced.
“Now, he’s back on September 6 or 7, we play on September 9. There are a lot of games. We will find the [right] moment.”
When pushed on why the deal hadn’t already been made official and released to the public, the Barca president continued: “Two months have gone by. He got married on June 30, then when he came back he went to Japan, then there was the tour.
“Then he came back… what happened? There was the Super Cup, then La Liga started, the trip to Monaco. We will find the [right] moment. I hope [within a month].”
Following the world-record departure of Neymar to PSG, there have been reports that Messi has grown frustrated at the situation at Barca and that he could be looking to move on.
Bartomeu is adamant the Argentine remains happy at Camp Nou, however, insisting that the expressions of apparent discontent he has been showing are purely because he is focused.
He said: “I don’t see that [Messi being unhappy]. Focused, yes, very. I saw him the other day on the trip to the UEFA event. He was relaxed, happy. We speak regularly with the players.
“They are all happy. [Jordi] Alba was saying it today, there’s alarmism. I’d say there’s pessimism. It’s okay. There’s a good team and we’re aspiring to win every trophy, like each year.”