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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

‘Lionel Messi yet to sign fresh deal shows he’s unsure about Barcelona future’

Lionel Messi is unsure if his future lies at Camp Nou, claims former Barcelona presidential candidate Agusti Benedito.

football Updated: Aug 22, 2017 16:46 IST
The rumour that Lionel Messi is headed for Manchester City is only getting stronger.
The rumour that Lionel Messi is headed for Manchester City is only getting stronger. (AFP)

Lionel Messi is showing he is unsure about his future by not signing a new Barcelona contract, according to Agusti Benedito.

The Argentina star agreed to a new four-year deal in July but has yet to put pen to paper, despite his current contract having less than a year to run.

Speculation has mounted that Messi could be tempted to leave Barca, with Manchester City reportedly prepared to activate his €300million release clause in order to reunite him with former boss Pep Guardiola.

(Read | Lionel Messi’s buyout clause? Someone could pay it: Man City boss Pep Guardiola)

Barca technical secretary Robert Fernandez has insisted it is a matter of time before Messi signs his extension, but Benedito, a former candidate for the club presidency, believes the 30-year-old has clear doubts around his decision.

“They’ve been leaving the renewal of Messi, the most important player, until the end... and with it still not signed, it’s a concern,” Benedito told Onda Cero and Radio Marca.

“Messi’s case could be worse than Neymar’s because, as things stand, from January 1, he’s free.

(Read | Lionel Messi headed for Manchester City? No way, says Barcelona official)

“Messi has always wanted a competitive team and the situation is a worry. [Barcelona president Josep Maria] Bartomeu said Messi had signed his renewal in June and that’s not the case.

“Bartomeu has not been able to conclude Messi’s renewal. If Messi hasn’t signed the renewal, it’s because he’s unsure.”

(Read | Raheem Sterling helps Manchester City earn draw vs Everton in Premier League)

Barca have largely endured a frustrating transfer window to date, losing Neymar for a world-record €222m fee to Paris Saint-Germain and facing defiance from Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund over top targets Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

Brazil international Paulinho was signed for €40m from Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao and Nice’s Jean Seri is reportedly close to securing a move, but Benedito believes Barca’s recruitment of midfielders underlines a sense of confusion over their transfer plans.

“The feeling given by the board is that they don’t know what they’re looking for in the market,” said Benedito, who began a campaign to lodge a vote of no confidence against the club’s directors in June. “There’s a bit of disruption.

“It seems like Seri is coming and with him they’ll have about 11 midfielders. We lose Neymar and we sign Paulinho.”

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 16:24 IST

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