Under-fire Barca President, Bartomeu, Offers to Stepdown if Messi Stays

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Josep Bartomeu

Barcelona President, Josep Bartomeu, would step aside if Lionel Messi agreed to commit his future to the club, according to reports in Spain.

However, a separate report has revealed that the under-fire 57-year-old has tried to call Messi to bring about peace talks but was ignored by the Argentine star.

The news comes after Messi informed the club via burofax earlier this week that he would like to leave after nearly a decade at the Camp Nou.

Bartomeu – who is serving his final term of presidency – has since come under heavy fire, with furious Barcelona supporters having pushed through the Nou Camp gates as their protests continued for a second day in the city.

Fans want the club’s board, headed by Bartomeu, to stand down after a dismal season that saw two sackings, losing the title to rivals Real Madrid and an embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

And according to Catalan television channel TV3, the fans may get their wish, with Bartomeu reportedly willing to step aside and leave his role as president provided that Messi publicly agrees to continue his career at the Camp Nou.

Catalan radio station RAC1 add that Bartomeu’s specific demand is that the Argentine states that Bartomeu is his only issue at the club, and he would therefore be willing to stay on at the Camp Nou if he leaves his position.

Bartomeu had already brought elections forward from next summer to March 2021 following an emergency board meeting last week, but he could now depart his presidency role even earlier.

It is suggested that Bartomeu’s offer is a political powerplay, and MARCA have since reported that Messi has not flinched despite Bartomeu’s offer of tendering his resignation.

Spanish outlet Cuatro Deportes are also not so optimistic and believe that Messi cannot be tempted in any case as he is already fed up at Barcelona and does not want to spend ‘another minute’ at the club.

The report adds that his decision is so definitive that he has not answered calls from Bartomeu, with the board harbouring a desire to convince Messi to make a U-turn on his decision.

Manchester City are the frontrunners to sign the Argentine if he can resolve the contractual standoff between himself and the club.

And the report from Spain adds that City have offered him the same wages of £95m a year that he earns at Barcelona as well as a three-year contract.

Messi’s fixed salary totals £64m (€71m) but bonuses for signing, for staying, and for winning trophies takes the figure well above that.

Just by playing 60 per cent of games until the 2021 date when his contract ends sees Messi earn on average £95m (€106m) a season. But the potential – if he were to win the treble and win FIFA’s player of the year award – exists to push the final figure over the £110m (€122m) mark.

Moreover, Messi believes a clause in his contract allowing him to walk away for nothing is still valid because the season ended in August and not May because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the report adds that the 33-year-old has been advised not to force the issue and to return to training while his future is sorted out.

The Argentine star is disappointed that he has not been given a winning project at Barcelona over the last few years, while also being told by new boss Koeman that his privileges at the club would come to an end.

The club have tried to keep Bartomeu out of the firing line amid the deluge of questions over Messi’s future.

During Francisco Trincao’s unveiling as a new Barcelona player, it was up to sporting director Ramon Planes to answer about Messi, insisting that the club are desperate for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay.

Messi has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards during his spell at the Camp Nou, where he has spent the entirety of his professional career.

He has scored an incredible 634 goals in 731 official appearances for Barcelona, but his time at the club now appears to be up and he is hopeful of becoming a free agent.