Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has dismissed claims Lionel Messi could leave the club next season by insisting the Argentina superstar will ‘see out his career’ at Camp Nou.
On Sunday, Spain-based journalist Graham Hunter told talkSPORT a transfer to Manchester City was a real possibility – but only if Pep Guardiola left the club.
It is believed the 33-year-old, whose contract expires in the summer of 2021, is fed up with the way the club is being run and is open to a new challenge.
“The number one club who has tried to take Lionel Messi away from Barcelona is Manchester City under their current ownership,” Hunter told the Weekend Sports Breakfast on talkSPORT.
“If the ownership has the idea of taking a 34-year-old Leo Messi, still in prime condition, one year after his final Ballon d’Or if he doesn’t win it again this season.
“I think Guardiola has doubts about how well Messi will work in the system because of the level of pressure and work off the ball.
“He’s allowed to do what he wants at Barcelona but if Guardiola moved on and Messi was free in a years time, Man City’s ownership would go hell for leather to sign him.”
However, Bartomeu has been quick to quash reports of unrest within Messi’s camp.
“I’m not going to give details of the negotiations, but he has said many times that he wants to finish his career at Barca,” Bartomeu told Spanish network Movistar+.
“Right now, we are focused on the competition and there are negotiations with lots of players. Messi wants to continue at Barca and he wants to end [his career] here. He has many years left and we’re going to enjoy him for a long time.”
Messi has once again been on sensational form this season and on Sunday broke another personal record by claiming his 19th assist of the season – his best ever tally.
One of the assists was a delightful back heel to Antoine Griezmann, who brilliantly lobbed the Villareal goalkeeper for his ninth goal of the season in the 4-1 victory.