Barcelona have broken their silence after Lionel Messi stunned the football world by telling the club via fax that he wants to leave on a free transfer.
The Spanish giants were left in disarray by Messi’s shock decision and on Tuesday, president Josep Bartomeu came under even more scrutiny for letting the fractious situation between the star man and the club’s hierarchy deteriorate beyond repair.
But during Francisco Trincao’s unveiling as a new Barcelona player on Wednesday, the club kept Bartomeu out of the firing line ahead of the impending questions on Messi’s future.
Instead, it was up to sporting director Ramon Planes to answer questions about Messi – insisting that the club are desperate for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay.
Planes, who took over from Eric Abidal as sporting director this month, insisted: ‘We do not contemplate any contractual exit, because we want Leo to stay. ‘Internally we are working long hours to find the best solution for FCB and for Leo.’
He added: ‘This is evidently the important news, we have said many times, as (Ronald) Koeman and the president have said, we count on Messi for the future just like we count on Trincao as a talent for the future.
‘We hope he will play alongside the greatest player in the history, the greatest player in the world, but these things happen and we hope we will come back stronger from the defeat at the end of last season. ‘What has happened has happened and our idea is to build a team around the most important player in the world.’
The sensational news surrounding Messi emerged after he held crunch talks with new manager Koeman – who took over from Quique Setien following their humiliating 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Messi decided his time was up at the Nou Camp after he was reportedly told ‘your privileges are over’ by Koeman.
Argentine news outlet Diario Ole claim that Koeman told Messi at a meeting: ‘Your privileges in the squad are over, you have to do everything for the team. I’m going to be inflexible, you have to think about the team.’
There could be chaotic times ahead at the Nou Camp as they desperately aim to resolve the delicate situation. The 33-year-old Argentine, who has attracted early interest from Manchester City, PSG, Inter Milan and others, believes he is now a free agent but Barcelona insist he is tied to the club for another year and with a £629million release clause.