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Lionel Messi wants Barcelona stay but talks ongoing


Joan Laporta has said Lionel Messi wants to stay at Barcelona although he denied he has already reached an agreement to sign a new contract.

Messi, 33, is out of contract at the end of the month but reports on Tuesday suggested he had given the green light to a new two-year deal at Camp Nou.

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Barca president Laporta explained things are not that far along yet, but echoed comments made by new Barca signing Sergio Aguero on Monday that suggest Messi is likely to stay.

“Talks are ongoing with Messi’s people,” Laporta said in a news conference when asked if an agreement was in place. “As I have said, they’re going well. We hope to keep making progress.

“It’s not done but I am convinced, like [Aguero] said, that they would like to play together here. I have always said the issue with Leo is not financial for him.

“[Messi] is showing a lot of understanding and wants to stay and have a competitive team that wins trophies. The sooner we have a decision the better, of course, but we’re not in a rush.”

If Messi signs a new deal, it will mark a remarkable turnaround from last August, when he informed the club of his desire to leave following the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Since then, Laporta has returned as president, replacing Josep Maria Bartomeu, and has promised to improve the team to help Barca compete for Europe’s biggest trophies once again.

The Blaugrana followed up the arrival of Aguero, Messi’s Argentine teammate and close friend, with the signing of Manchester City defender Eric Garcia on a free transfer on Tuesday.

Laporta said more signings with follow, with sources confirming to ESPN that talks are ongoing over moves for Georginio Wijnaldum, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay.

“We lost the league and there will be consequences,” Laporta added in reference to overhauling the squad. “That’s the level of demand there has to be here.

“We want to improve the team and there will be more [signings]. We’re working on it. We need to balance the squad and you will see what we’re working on soon. Next week there will be more news.”

Laporta also gave the biggest indication yet that Ronald Koeman will continue as coach.

Sources told ESPN last week that Barca were exploring possible replacements but that a lack of credible alternatives could see the Dutchman kept on for the second year of his contract.

“I would say he’s closer to [staying] than [leaving],” Laporta said. “We’re in a period of reflection but talks are going well.”



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