Barcelona confirm talks with Messi over new deal

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The club's president says he will personally handle negotiations over a new contract for the Argentine star and is sure everything will be agreed soon

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has reassured that Lionel Messi wants to stay at the club and insists that contract talks have begun with the player's camp.

Barca must get priorities right after latest PR disaster

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi's existing deal is set to expire at the end of next season, with Barca chief executive Oscar Grau admitting on Wednesday a Liga spending cap could prove troublesome in agreeing a renewal.

The Catalan giants sacked director Pere Gratacos after he stated Messi would not be as good without team-mates like Neymar, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta – an opinion deemed not to "coincide with those of the club".

Despite an increasingly turbulent situation, Bartomeu – who said in December that Messi should be the highest-paid player in the world – remains calm about keeping the 29-year-old at Camp Nou.

"There aren't any nerves. I want to reassure everyone, I will personally take care of the negotiations with Leo and his family," he said on Esport3.

"Everything requires time. We want Messi to remain here, but I will not give out any details.

"We are talking with his people. He is the best in the world, he wants to stay here and we want him to as well.

"Everything will be done with discretion and calmness. Of course it is an essential renewal for the club.

"I have already said the sooner the better – nothing has changed."

Bartomeu went on to discuss the latest controversy surrounding the club concerning the sacking of Gratacos, but he seemed surprised by the outrage.

"We do not understand the controversy that the removal of Gratacos has generated," he said. "His statements were not adequate with what the club thinks."

Barca face Real Sociedad in Copa del Rey

Barcelona players snubbed FIFA's The Best awards gala, in which Messi was nominated for the men's award, won by Cristiano Ronaldo, but Bartomeu maintains they were focused on their midweek game.

"FIFA understood that we could not go to the gala because the priority was the Copa del Rey match against Athletic. Relationships are excellent."