Barcelona’s sporting director Eric Abidal has revealed the club are looking to address Lionel Messi’s contract situation sooner rather than later.
The Argentine forward’s current deal at the Nou Camp expires at the end of next season, although Messi has a clause in his contract that says he is able to leave in the summer if he wishes.
Messi has previously stated his desire to remain at the club, and recently talked of how his family is settled in Barcelona.
Now Barca are hopeful of putting any speculation of him leaving to bed by tying him down to fresh terms.
“Messi is a key player for us,” Abidal told Sport. “He does have the option to leave at the end of his current deal, however we want to work on that.
“Our president is talking to his representatives at the moment, and we hope to get the matter closed.
“I hope he stays at Barcelona for many many years, but that is Leo’s decision.”
Messi’s contract states he can leave at the end of any season after his 32nd birthday, which was in June, but any new deal would likely see him end his career with Barca.
He even discussed recently how his original plans of finishing with a brief stint in Argentina could now be unlikely, due to his love for his current surroundings and family commitments.
“I always said I don’t want to leave Barcelona, I don’t have the idea of leaving,” he told TyC Sports. “I have the dream of being able to play at Newell’s in Argentine football, but I don’t know if realistically it will happen, because I have a family that comes before my desire.
“It’s a reality I dreamed of since I was little but I have a family, I have three children, I live in a place that gave me everything and where I am calm, and I can give my kids a spectacular future. We think much more about that than my desire to play in Argentine football.
“I’ll try to convince the family, because now you have to convince the kids too. Thiago[Messi’s eldest son] is big now, he’s got his friends and he doesn’t like it at all when we go to Argentina for a month, he wants to be with his friends and it’s all harder.”