'Common sense' to extend Messi stay

BARCELONA • Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu sought to clarify the club's position on Lionel Messi's future on Saturday by declaring renewing the Argentinian's contract was an "indispensable matter".

"We want Leo to stay here, we want him to renew with us, he's very important for the club and for Barca. We're working hard on it and when two people want the same thing there's always a happy ending," Bartomeu told Catalan network TV3.

Messi scored for the seventh game in a row as the champions thrashed Las Palmas 5-0 in La Liga on Saturday, barely 24 hours after the club demoted director Pere Gratacos for saying Messi would not be the player he is without his Barcelona team-mates.

Luis Suarez (two goals), Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal also scored in the thumping victory.

Earlier in the week, the club's chief executive Oscar Grau had generated intrigue about Messi's future by declaring Barca needed to use "common sense" when discussing a new contract for their all-time top scorer, whose current deal runs out in 2018.

"I want to ease everyone's nerves," said Bartomeu. "We've been having conversations (with Messi) and it's only a matter of time. When there's any news we'll announce it. "I can't explain the details but we're speaking with his people. It's an indispensable matter for us."

Bartomeu also explained that Gratacos had been removed from his role as Director of Institutional Relations but remained at the club, and said Grau's comments had been misinterpreted.

"His words were taken out of context but we're used to that. Common sense says we have to renew Messi's (deal).

"He is the best player in the history of football, a leader and the best in the world. His importance cannot be questioned," he said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline ''Common sense' to extend Messi stay'. Print Edition | Subscribe