Sports desk – Everybody is talking about Lionel Messi’s possible departure from Barcelona when his contract expires in 2018. Everybody but him.
Fox News reported that Messi is neither confirming nor denying a report in sports newspaper Marca that the player had told Barcelona that he does not intend to renew his contract.
The player’s representatives said Monday that Messi would not be making any comments related to the story.
Marca claimed that Messi told the club about his reported decision in July, not long after he and his father were convicted of defrauding Spanish tax authorities – something that Marca said played a major role in the player’s decision-making process.
Messi and his father have denied any wrongdoing and said they would appeal.
Barcelona did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Some publications in Barcelona challenged the story by the Madrid-based Marca.
The Daily denied that its report came in retaliation for Messi not showing up at a recent awards ceremony organised by the newspaper.
However, The Mail’s Ed Malyon reported that Messi is in the early stages of negotiating a new Barcelona deal that will see him overtake Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s highest paid player.
According to sources close to the player, the deal is unlikely to be finalised until early 2017, but his salary will top £45 million per year to eclipse Ronaldo’s five-year extension.
Messi’s camp is reportedly “in no rush” to agree a new extension as president Josep Bartomeu has focused on new deals for Neymar, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano in recent months, with Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez to join them soon.
The 29-year-old Messi arrived at Barcelona as a teenager from Argentina, and has never publicly talked about being unhappy at the club.
The five-time player of the year has become the face of the Catalan club and has four Champions League titles and eight Spanish league triumphs.
Messi had to reach for the sick bag as the plane carrying the Argentina team endured a bumpy ride from Buenos Aires to San Juan ahead of a World Cup qualifier.
The Barcelona superstar and several of his team-mates took ill due to the turbulence during the journey to the city near the Andes where Argentina will face Colombia on Tuesday.
The bout of illness will not stop Messi or any of his colleagues from playing in what is a crucial game for Argentina’s hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Edgardo Bauza’s side are sixth in the South American qualifying group after 11 matches following a 3-0 defeat in Brazil last week.
They are a point off fourth-place Ecuador, with the top four qualifying directly and the team in fifth going into a play-off against a team from the Oceania zone.