Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is confident of keeping hold of Lionel Messi, with the LaLiga champions set to open negations over a new contract in the “next couple of months”.
Messi’s current deal is set to expire in June 2018 and Bartomeu has already said the Barca star has a contract for ever at Camp Nou.
However, Premier League giants Manchester City have been linked with a move for Messi, ex-Barca boss Pep Guardiola opening the door for the 29-year-old should he ever leave the Catalans.
Bartomeu, though, is confident of warding off interest from the lucrative Premier League.
“This is a decision for Leo Messi or for any player to change club,” Bartomeu told the Telegraph. “Right now Leo Messi has a contract to the end of the Russian World Cup [in 2018] and we are very happy with him. Very happy. He’s the best player in the world, by far.
“I don’t know what will happen in the future but of course we will always try to explain to him that he is at the best club in the world and this is the best place for him to live and he is living the best experience of his life with us.
“He is still only 29. And if you see him playing it seems like he is one of our very young players. Leo Messi reinvented himself two years ago and changed the way he played and he is a better player now than he was then, a much better player. So normally players increase and then reduce but he is still growing. So where are the limits? We don’t know.
“We will have the negotiation with Messi in the next couple of months.”
Messi and Barca will reunite with Guardiola again on Tuesday, City hosting the Spanish giants in the Champions League.
Guardiola suffered a humiliating return to Barca on matchday three, routed 4-0 by his former club, where he won 14 trophies during his tenure as coach.
Asked if Guardiola could return to his boyhood team, Bartomeu said: “You never know.”
He added: “Pep is creating a new project at City and I can tell you – it will be successful. He’s an incredible coach.
“I hope that one day he will be back here. There are so many people who were at the club, went, came back again. You never know but right now he is concentrating on City. I think he has a three-year contract?”
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