Barcelona have vowed to make Lionel Messi the best paid player in the world as they prepare to begin talks over extending his contract in the New Year.
Neymar, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have all penned new deals at their respective clubs in recent months, with the latter member of that list reportedly the world’s top earner with a salary of around €430,000-per-week.
Messi’s contract with Barca expires in 2018 but president Josep Maria Bartomeu believes that the 29-year-old will commit his future to the club imminently and be paid according to his status in the game.
“There are no doubts that sooner or later we will close [Messi’s] renewal,” Bartomeu said at a news conference on Tuesday to assess the calendar year.
“I hope that he ends his sporting career here and after that I’m sure he will remain linked to the club. He is without doubt the best player in the history of the game and we will make a huge effort to renew his contract.
“For me, the Ballon d’Or should have been won by Messi every year. When you hear the rest of the world speak about him, there’s no possible doubt. You don’t need to be a Barca fan to recognise the merits of Messi the player. He’s No. 1 without doubt.
“Messi is a Barcelona player, he feels Barca in his heart. I need to sit down and talk with him and his representatives [in the New Year] and I think he’s convinced he’s in the best place. We are, too.
“I don’t want to talk about numbers really. If he’s the best player in the world, though, then he should be the best player in the world in all aspects, even economically. That’s all I will say on numbers.”
Bartomeu also reiterated his desire for Luis Enrique to remain in charge of Barca’s first team.
The coach himself has refused to talk about his contract situation, with his deal due to expire next summer, but the club are keen for him to remain in his role.
“Around April we will focus on speaking with the manager,” Bartomeu added, echoing a comment he made last week. “Doing well on the pitch is the most important thing at the moment, but we would be delighted for him to continue with us. He’s the manager that we want and he’s helping us continue the successful cycle of recent years.”
Andres Iniesta, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ivan Rakitic are also players in line for contract renewals in 2017, although Bartomeu refused to focus on the specifics of when deals are likely to be done.
“The Rakitic situation is the same as with ter Stegen and Iniesta,” he said. “He’s at a very high level and it’s one of the case we have to look at, but I won’t say when or how.”