Messi’s current contract comes to an end in June, leading to feverish speculation about his future.
He caused something akin to mass hysteria when he asked to leave last summer, though the resignation of former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu in October helped to reduce the tension between him and the club hierarchy.
Joan Laporta, Bartomeu’s successor, has previously promised to “do everything possible” to convince Messi to stay at Camp Nou.
Barcelona are in a tight spot financially, however, with debts of over €1bn. They are also coming to the end of a disappointing season – by their standards, at least – in which they have only won the Copa del Rey.
Messi has theoretically been allowed to speak with other clubs since January, with Manchester City and PSG among his mooted destinations . He may still opt to extend his stay at the club he has represented for over two decades, but the clock is ticking for Barcelona’s contract negotiators .
Much has been made of the fact that Messi has been granted permission to miss Barca’s final game of the season against Eibar, ostensibly so that he can rest and recuperate ahead of the Copa America next month.
On the surface, it appears that he is heading into the last month of his contract with his future undecided.
According to Rivaldo, Messi already knows full well what he intends to do this summer.
Speaking to Betfair, he said: “The season is almost at its end and Barcelona will only add a Copa del Rey to the trophy room after failing in the Champions League and in the final few weeks of the La Liga title race.
“Even though it could have been important to earn more titles this season to motivate Lionel Messi, I don’t think that would have changed whether he stayed or left.
“In my opinion, he will have already decided his future by now and it’s just waiting for the season to end – that’s the right moment to make an official announcement about his future.
“If he is leaving for Manchester City or PSG, or is going to stay a little longer, we cannot be sure at the moment and we’ll have to wait a few more weeks before Messi communicates something about the subject.”
On top of Messi’s future, the Barcelona hierarchy have to decide whether to retain Ronald Koeman as manager for next season.
Addressing the speculation over his position this week , Koeman said: “I don’t know if I will continue as coach, to be honest. I’ve not spoken with the president.
“I know we need to make changes in order to win trophies and if that means a new coach or players then fine, but it needs to be communicated.”
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