Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is confident that Lionel Messi will retire at the club in ‘three of four years.’ Messi, whose contract at Camp Nou runs till June 2021, is yet to sign an extension and has been continuously linked with Inter Milan in the last few weeks. Bartomeu is, however, convinced that the Argentine will remain in Spain and retire at Barcelona. The 33-year-old has stalled talks of negotiations for a new contract midway through this season leading to speculations that he might leave Barcelona at the end of the next season. Lionel Messi Exhibits Stunning Footwork in the Nets Ahead of Barcelona vs Napoli, Champions League 2019-20 (Watch Video).

Bartomeu though is not bothered by the speculations and believes that the Argentine knows that this is his club for life. "It's not just me that says so but Leo has always said it, that he wants to end his professional career at Barcelona," Bartomeu was quoted as saying by beIN Sports. "I think it's the club of his life. It's a man for a club and it's the best club for him." Zinedine Zidane Leaves Gareth Bale Out of Real Madrid Squad for Manchester City Tie.

Reports earlier had suggested that Manchester City and Juventus were the front-runners for his signature once Messi decides to leave Barcelona next summer. But Inter Milan are now reported to be involved in negotiations with the Argentine’s representatives after rumours sparked that he had called off the negotiations for a new contract. Bartomeu though it’s now or when for Messi to sign a new contract.

"I am certain that it [contract extension] will happen. I have no doubt that Leo Messi in three, four, many years to come will retire at Barcelona,” Bartomeu said. "He arrived at the club when he was young, he grew up here, he feels the colours. He is a very important part in our history. He is the best player in the history and he is at Barcelona. It is very clear to him that this is his all-time club."

Messi scored 25 goals and assisted 21 times in the recently-concluded La Liga season and won the league golden boot for a record seventh time. But despite his good season, Messi failed to inspire Barcelona to a La Liga title with Real Madrid clinching the trophy. Worse for Barcelona was their home defeat in the penultimate game of the league leaving Messi frustrated.

"We have made positive self-criticism among us all and we are in a situation in which we know where the possible errors are and where we need to grow to correct them," Bartomeu said, ahead of match against Napoli in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16. "We are ready and with renewed enthusiasm."

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Aug 06, 2020 05:06 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website