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Leo Messi is going nowhere, insists Barcelona president Bartomeu

FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu once again insisted that star striker Lionel Messi would not be abandoning the club in the near future.

Josep Maria Bartomeu and Messi
Barca President Josep Bartomeu insists that Lionel Messi is staying put at the Catalan club

Barcelona, Feb 24 (IANS) FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu once again insisted that star striker Lionel Messi would not be abandoning the club in the near future.

Recent months have seen numerous rumours over the future of the Argentinean. But ahead of his side's vital Champions League tie away to Manchester City, Bartomeu repeated that the club had no intention of selling Messi, reports Xinhua.

The Barcelona president also dismissed talk of problems after Messi, Gerard Pique and former midfielder Cesc Fabregas were pictured leaving the Casino de Barcelona Sunday night, less than 48 hours before their game in Manchester.

"They have been friends since they were in the cadet side (aged 13) and it's normal for them to see each other in their private lives. In fact we like that. We will have Messi for years at Barcelona. He is delighted to be at Barcelona and we are delighted with him. He is a Barca fan and another Catalan," said Bartomeu.

He denied that Messi had demanded the club make further signings, something they can't do at the moment as the result of a FIFA ban, nor asked for coach Luis Enrique to be sacked.

In the wake of being charged with tax fraud over irregularities regarding the signing of Brazilian striker Neymar, Bartomeu repeated the player had cost "57 million euros" but the cost of the "operation was another. Signing Neymar is not just signing a player, it is also signing all that surrounds him," he said.

Bartomeu also talked about defender Dani Alves, who is out of contract at the end of the season. "I don't know if he will renew his contract," he added while confirming that Sergio Busquets was close to agreeing on a new deal.

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