Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said he does not want to argue with Lionel Messi and believes the Argentinian is excited to play under new coach Ronald Koeman.
Bartomeu also said he has no intention of resigning, despite a petition to oust him as president gathering more than 20,000 signatures last week.
Messi has reintegrated with the team since admitting he had been forced to stay at Barcelona and claiming Bartomeu had broken his word over a clause in his contract allowing him to leave.
The 33-year-old could still depart for free when his contract expires next summer.
“As president I will not enter into any conflict with Messi,” Bartomeu said on Saturday in an interview with Catalan television channel TV3.
“Messi is our captain, the leader. We have seen him in recent days and does his talking on the field as we have seen. The issue is parked. What has been said has been said.
“I couldn’t allow, like anyone on the board or coaching staff, to let the best player in the world go. The team needs him. Things have to be discussed at home. You have to support the team and the players.
“We have to congratulate ourselves that Messi is still with us. He is excited about Koeman. The important thing is he plays for Barca, at his home. We want him to retire at the club and to start a project with Messi.”
The chaos surrounding Messi’s future prompted a motion of censure against Bartomeu, who will face a vote of no confidence if more than 16,520 of the 20,867 signatures against him are approved.
A vote will then be held and if two thirds of voting members go against Bartomeu, he will have to step down, with an election held perhaps as early as January.
“Right now, no-one is considering resigning,” said Bartomeu. “The club is not going to stop. The board is surprised by the number of signatures but we respect democracy and the club’s laws.”
Bartomeu said the club are still trying to freshen up the squad before the transfer window closes on October 5 but admitted there are financial constraints.
“Barca, like many clubs in Europe, has less income,” said Bartomeu. “We cannot sell tickets, the museum is closed. We suffer from a lack of resources and we have to adapt.”
“At the moment there is no space for new players to arrive if others do not leave,” he added.
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