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Messi will finish career at Barca, says club president

July 06, 2020 13:44 IST
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Lionel Messi also registered his best-ever assist tally in the history of La Liga during the match against Villareal on Sunday.

IMAGE: Lionel Messi also registered his best-ever assist tally in the history of La Liga during the match against Villareal on Sunday. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said that captain Lionel Messi will end his career at the Catalan club, dismissing a report saying the Argentine no longer wishes to renew his current contract when it expires next year.

"Messi has said he will end his working and footballing life at Barca," Bartomeu told Spanish network Movistar after his side beat Villarreal 4-1 away on Sunday in La Liga.

"I'm not going to explain the details because we are focused on the competition and we are negotiating with many players but Messi has explained to us that he wants to stay and so we're going to enjoy him for much longer."

Messi is currently also the top-scorer in the La Liga for the 2019-20 season, and he is five goals ahead of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema.

 

Messi also registered his best-ever assist tally in the history of La Liga on Sunday.

Messi set up Antoine Griezmann for Barcelona's third goal and this enabled the Argentine to register his 19th La Liga assist for the season, Goal.com reported.

The 33-year-old Messi had already set up Luis Suarez in the first half against Villarreal. With this, he became the first player to reach 18 assists for the season.

The 33-year-old Messi, who signed his last contract in 2017, has become more outspoken against the club's hierarchy in the last year and radio station Cadena Ser said last Thursday he is unhappy with how Barca is being run and wants to leave in 2021.

The win against Villarreal kept Barca in the title hunt with La Liga leaders Real Madrid, who hold a four-point advantage after beating Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday thanks to a late penalty by Sergio Ramos.

The spot kick was awarded following a VAR review while Athletic had their own penalty appeal turned down and Bartomeu said the technology was not being applied fairly since the season resumed following the novel coronavirus stoppage.

"I saw the game in Bilbao and although I don't like to say it, I'll repeat that VAR is not being used as it should be," added Bartomeu.

"Since the season returned after the COVID-19 crisis it has not been equal, that has been reflected in the results and it looks as if it always favours the same team.

"VAR should be there to help out the referee but in the last few weeks everyone has been able to see the instances in which it has not been used fairly."

Real coach Zinedine Zidane said he was tired of his side's winning run being put down to marginal decisions going their way.

"I'm tired of hearing that we won because of referees. It's not going to change, but the players deserve respect. Nobody is going to take our minds off our goal," Zidane said.

"I like our strength more than anything. We are showing solidity and balance when we lose the ball and we're doing very well. We've lacked a spark in attack and we can improve, but our defensive strength is so important," he added.

Eight points from the last four games will be enough to seal the title for Madrid, a first domestic crown since 2016-17, nothing is being taken for granted.

"Until it's mathematically won, we cannot relax or think about the title. It's a very important victory, a hard-fought game with a lot of intensity," Zidane said.

Barcelona will next take on Espanyol in La Liga on July 8.

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