NEWS
Friday March 28 2014
Bartomeu: I’ll leave Barca before Messi does

Josep Maria Bartomeu has insisted there is no problem over Lionel Messi’s contract and he expects Messi to stay at Barcelona for life.

Bartomeu was speaking to Spanish radio station COPE and touched on a range of subjects, from the future of stricken goalkeeper Victor Valdes to the criticism of Neymar from Johan Cruyff.

“We have said Valdes has the club at his disposition,” the President said of the goalkeeper, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament against Celta Vigo.

“Now he’s worried about his operation, of course, but he knows the club is open to him.”

Valdes had already announced he would leave Camp Nou this summer and Bartomeu added that he was not aware of Valdes’ destination.

Nor would he confirm or deny speculation Barca were to offer Valdes a new contract if his injury prevents him signing for a new club.

As for Messi, Bartomeu predicted a lengthy stay for La Pulga.

“Messi will continue at Barca. His current contract will not be his last. He will sign more,” Bartomeu continued.

“I think I’ll leave the club before Messi does.

“Everyone wants to re-sign Messi to Barcelona. He’s a unique player, the best in the world and we’re enjoying him.

“There is no problem renewing. We want him to be the highest-paid player in the world.”

Bartomeu then moved to deny gossip that says Neymar’s pay packet has unsettled the rest of the squad.

He also insisted that the signing was above board and said the case brought by Jordi Cases was lacking support from other Barca members.

“There is no jealousy in the team for Neymar, because he has come with very high expectations,” Bartomeu said of the Brazil forward.

“The signing was transparent. His father’s company pays tax in Brazil and we wanted to pay the tax here.

“Therefore we have paid twice for the same tax. Hopefully, in future, a court can unravel this situation and give us the reason.

“I guess behind Cases is only the Lord. We could not provide the information requested because of a confidentiality clause.

“Until Neymar’s father allowed us, we couldn’t do it.

“Neymar is not a player taking over the club. He’s third on the pay scale and will rise,” Bartomeu said in response to the criticism of Cruyff.

“Cruyff always has an opinion and you have to listen. Sometimes he’s right and sometimes he’s not.

“But as a player and a Coach he’s the benchmark for our club.”

Talk then turned to the current Coach, Tata Martino, and Bartomeu repeated that the Argentine will see out his deal.

“Tata has a contract and he has said he will comply with it. It’s true there is a clause that can terminate it but we are very happy with Martino.

“The expectation is that he will comply with his contract.”

Bartomeu revealed that Rafinha, currently on loan at Celta, would return to Camp Nou next season but no decision has been made regarding Gerard Deulofeu, who is spending the season at Everton.

He was also asked about the incident in El Clasico involving Sergio Busquets and Pepe, when the midfielder was accused of standing on the defender’s head.

“I don’t think it was on purpose. It happened in the game and sometimes things happen accidentally,” Bartomeu countered.

“I don’t think there’s anyone around here who wants to destabilise the club.

“But it’s true there is often a lot of noise around us. We try to get away from it but it’s difficult.

“In all criticism of Barca, we reflect, and we fight it all.

“But each debate strengthens us. Barca has always been this way and the socios are used to it. It forces us to improve,” Bartomeu concluded.

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