Barcelona president ‘convinced’ Lionel Messi will stay at the club

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Barcelona president ‘convinced’ Lionel Messi will stay at the club

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is “convinced” Lionel Messi will end his career at the club.

The four-time Ballon d’Or winner, whose current deal expires in the summer of 2018, is yet to agree new terms.

Bartomeu said: “All of Barca believe this is how it has to be, because he is the player that in the last few years has brought us sporting success.”

He was speaking at the announcement of a new shirt deal with Japanese retailer Rakuten that could rise to over £200m.

With add-ons the deal could become the highest in football sponsorship history.

The 29-year-old Argentina forward has scored 433 times in 456 appearances during his time at the Nou Camp.

Reports in Spanish newspaper suggested the club legend had rejected an offer of a new contract.

But the Barcelona president added: “I believe we’ve got a team with incredible players, all of them.

“There is nonetheless a leader of course, Leo Messi, he is well known and popular all over the world.

“We’re all convinced, we’re all positive Leo Messi will end his sporting career in Barca.”

Pique and Shakira help negotiate shirt deal

Online retailer Rakuten revealed defender Gerard Pique and his popstar wife Shakira helped the Catalan club secure the new four-year £47m-a-year shirt sponsorship deal.

“Gerard Pique and his wife Shakira are very close friends with Mr Mikitani [Rakuten CEO],” Bartomeu said.

“It was in the summer of 2015, Gerard organised a dinner in San Francisco during our summer tour.

“At that dinner we met Mr Mikitani. We talked about the future, about his interest in FC Barcelona and we started at that moment conversations.”

The deal eclipses their Qatar Airways deal by £17m each year.

Manchester United signed a record £47m-per-year deal with Chevrolet in 2014, while Chelsea’s deal with Japanese company Yokohama Rubber is reported to be worth £40m a year.

That figure could rise to £53m – with £1.3m on offer if Luis Enrique’s side are crowned La Liga champions, and a bonus of £4.3m if they win the Champions League.

The deal includes access to players for advertising purposes and an agreement to hold at least one match in Japan during each year of the deal.