Barcelona news: Board set to offer Lionel Messi a new deal, star attacker returns from injury and more - April 5, 2019
Hello and welcome to the Barcelona news of the day! Here are the top stories of the day surrounding the Blaugrana!
Barcelona planning to offer Lionel Messi a new contract
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has claimed the they are planning to offer Blaugrana captain Lionel Messi with a new contract to extend his stay with the club.
The five time Ballon d'Or renewed his contract in 2017 which will expire in 2021. Barcelona wants to extend his stay at the club, who made his debut with Barcelona when he was just 17. The 31-year-old Argentine is the team's undisputed talisman once again this season and has scored 42 goals in all competitions.
Messi also leads the race for the European Golden Show with 32 goals in the LaLiga and is the highest assist provider in Europe.
"We want him to have a really long career so we can keep on enjoying him," Bartomeu told ESPN via AS. "Lionel's managed to break down borders. Everyone admires him and he's applauded at other stadiums by rival fans."
"We would like to renew his contract, that's the idea. He is young – you can see that [in his performances] – and he still has two years on his deal. He's always improving, always innovating. I believe he still has many years in front of him and in the coming months we will sit down with him so that he has many more years at Barcelona."
"Messi is a one club man. It's more than what he does on the pitch – his relationship with Barca will last forever. I use the example of Pele, who was always at Santos. We want Messi to always be at Barca, whether that's playing or linked to the club [when he's retired]."
Messi came on in 60th minute from the bench against Villareal when the Catalan giants were trailing 4-2 and helped salvage a point from the match with a free-kick and a stunning pass which helped Suarez net the equalizer in the injury time.
Bartomeu added: "Messi changed completely the sense of Barcelona. In the way of keeping our club on top [in terms of] results, [winning the] top competitions and trying to win every season."
"Messi knows his body well and the day he believes he can't add [what he wants], he will leave. [We have] to prepare for the future. Leo Messi is our leader, he's the best player in the world of football, he's playing with us, he's playing fantastically, but we know it won't be forever."
"Maybe in three, four or five years, Leo Messi will say: 'OK, I am going to stop playing football.' So we are preparing our club for the future, for the time post-Leo. Because we would like to still be the top club at that time. So, it's a way of working, of investing, also of taking risks."
"We invest in young players, on homegrown players from La Masia, but also on bringing players from other clubs, just to keep this level of excellence."
Ousmane Dembele returns and trains with the group
The French winger returns to training after recovering from a hamstring injury. Dembele will not feature against Atletico Madrid in the LaLiga and is set to be in the squad against Manchester United in the Champions League Quarter Finals next week.
Dembele suffered the injury on March 13 and was set to miss between three to four weeks but completed training sessions with the group, depicting he is recovered from his injury.
The Blaugrana will face two season deciding fixtures back to back against Atletico and Manchester United but they will not rush things with Dembele. The French star has a history of hamstring injuries and missed almost five months due to similar injury in his first season, which is why Barcelona will not force him.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde previous admitted that he rushed Dembele against Lyon but the club hierarchy is well aware that another similar set back can cost him the rest of the season.
The Catalan giants sit comfortably at the top of the LaLiga with a 8 point lead over Atletico and they do not need to feature Dembele against them. But a host of hefty fixtures can force Dembele to make some changes and which is why the French winger may be in the squad.