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Barcelona president Bartomeu: I stopped Messi leaving; we won't strengthen a direct rival

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says a priority is to secure Leo Messi to a new contract.

Messi's current deal expires in June.

Bartomeu remarked on Monday: "The project is very interesting with young players and experienced ones, like [Lionel] Messi.

"And I think that with him we are going to win a title this season. I understand everyone's opinions, as empathizing is important. In Leo's case is good to get angry because it is not good to accept defeats and we have all gotten angry.

"But there was a deadline for him to announce if he wanted to leave or not. He did not do it and he is still here. We all want him to retire at Barcelona."

Messi asked to be released during the summer after Barcelona's thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich, and Bartomeu claims that he turned down the Argentine's request to avoid strengthening any direct opponents.

"Our priority was for [Lionel] Messi to be in the new project and I decided not to face a dialectical discussion. I was accused of forcing his departure to balance the accounts.

"Well no, we will not strengthen a direct rival. We made a decision accepting the attrition."

Carlos Volcano
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Carlos Volcano

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