Bartomeu expects Messi stay but casts doubt on Barca deals for Neymar and Martinez

By Sports Desk July 26, 2020

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu expects Lionel Messi to stay at the club but appears doubtful of deals for Neymar or Lautaro Martinez.

Messi's frustrated outburst after Barca lost the LaLiga title race to Real Madrid prompted speculation he could look to leave the club when his contract expires next year.

It has also been suggested the Argentina star has a tense relationship with Bartomeu, having previously criticised unnamed members of the board for a perceived lack of support for the players.

Bartomeu, though, is not worried about the future of the club captain.

"Messi has said many times that he wants to retire here and I have no doubt that he will renew," he told Mundo Deportivo.

Bartomeu is more sceptical about Barca's transfer plans due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Barca players agreed to a 70 per cent pay cut in March and volunteered to make contributions to help club staff take home a full salary during the height of Spain's 'state of alarm'.

The Catalans have nonetheless been hit hard by the crisis, meaning any transfers before next season are almost certain to involve player exchanges or require sales first.

With that in mind, Bartomeu appears pessimistic about bringing Neymar back to the club from Paris Saint-Germain or landing Inter striker Martinez, their top target.

"Now, we're making decisions and the players, if they don't come in an exchange, it's very difficult for them to come," he said when asked about Neymar.

On Martinez, he added: "Yes, we have spoken with Inter but now the issue is on hold."

However, Bartomeu believes the squad is already looking promising given a number of players are due to arrive in the coming weeks.

"We already have seven new players," he said. "We have bet on Trincao, Pedrito and Matheus [Fernandes] for the future, and they will have first-team numbers alongside [Ronald] Araujo, Riqui [Puig] and Ansu [Fati]. [Miralem] Pjanic will integrate from the beginning."

For now, Bartomeu's priority is extending the contract of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, which expires in 2022, even though he accepts the Germany international is unlikely to earn a substantial pay rise.

"For me, it's Marc-Andre ter Stegen," he said when asked about the most important renewal. "Not only for the quality of keeper but for his personality as a player, his way of being. He's a pillar for the dressing room and the future.

"He's very young for a goalkeeper and he's already among the elite. And at 28, he's one of the three best in the world.

"He understands what's happening in society and he knows that, given the decrease in income for clubs like Barca, he has to adjust his salary. All the players are doing that and we're working on it.

"I don't get into figures. I say that they adapt their salaries to the level of income that the club has right now and will have in future."

On the future of striker Luis Suarez, he added: "Luis has a contract that, based on the number of games he plays. It automatically renews for the 2021-22 season."

Related items

  • Mourinho: Spurs still 'trying' in transfer market Mourinho: Spurs still 'trying' in transfer market

    Jose Mourinho has reiterated Tottenham remain keen on making even more additions to their squad in this transfer window.

    Spurs have so far brought in four new players, having last week added Real Madrid pair Sergio Reguilon and Gareth Bale to a group that had already been bolstered by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty.

    Inter's Milan Skriniar and Southampton's Danny Ings have also been linked to the north London club as Mourinho targets both a centre-back and a central striker that can deputise for Harry Kane.

    "The market is open, we have a good squad," Mourinho told reporters.

    "Can we have a better squad than we have now? Yes, we can. Is the club trying to build that balanced squad that we all want? Yes, we are trying. Let’s see if that’s possible."

    That squad tinkering could include departures too, though.

    Dele Alli's Tottenham future looks bleak after he was left out of the squad to face Southampton at the weekend having been hauled off at half-time in the loss to Everton.

    Mourinho excluded the England international on that occasion because he felt he had too many attacking options, and he took the 24-year-old off on Thursday for Kane shortly after Shkendija had equalised in their Europa League tie.

    Tottenham went on to win 3-1, and though Mourinho did not single out Alli for criticism, he bemoaned the entire team's display before Kane's introduction.

    "The team didn't play very well, as a team," the Portuguese said.

    "It's hard to individualise, it's hard to say player A, B or C when the reality is that the team didn't play very well.

    "For the last 30 minutes, the team played well. We used the wings, we had occupation in the box, we had Harry not losing the ball, dropping back and linking the play. The team improved a lot in the last 30 minutes."

    One man who does appear to have convinced Mourinho he is worthy of a starting spot moving forward is record signing Tanguy Ndombele.

    The Frenchman was taken off at half-time against Southampton - when he was making his first start since March - but lasted 90 minutes on Thursday and earned Mourinho's praise.

    "He played very well," Mourinho said of Ndombele.

    "I don't have the data in my hands but I imagine our percentage of the ball was very high and when it is high he feels much more comfortable. But even without the ball he had good recovery, duels, defensive transition, it was a very positive game from Tanguy, really happy.

    "Can he play on Sunday [against Newcastle United]? I’m not sure. We have to see how he reacts and recovers from it but we have so many matches coming that if a player is not able to play in the next match then he will be able to play in the next one."

  • Solskjaer puts trust in Bailly as partner for Man Utd skipper Maguire Solskjaer puts trust in Bailly as partner for Man Utd skipper Maguire

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will give Eric Bailly the chance to show he can provide the solution to Manchester United's defensive problems. 

    United manager Solskjaer was urged to dive into the transfer market after last weekend's season-opening defeat to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. 

    Former Red Devils captain Gary Neville said the centre-back partnership between Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire was not good enough for a team with Premier League title pretensions. 

    Lindelof, particularly poor against Palace, could lose his Premier League starting place as Solskjaer puts his trust in an axis formed by captain Maguire and ex-Villarreal man Bailly. 

    They were paired together in the 3-0 EFL Cup win at Luton Town on Tuesday and could again be in tandem for the league clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday. 

    The 3-1 loss to Palace may have been grim for United, but Solskjaer sees better times ahead. 

    He said: “I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best. Last week wasn’t fantastic, we conceded sloppy goals, but I think our defensive record from last season with Eric and Harry, [we saw] how good a partnership they were. 

    "Eric is fit again which is a big bonus for us. I'm looking forward to seeing him develop. We've been waiting for him to be fit and playing more regularly.” 

    Bailly started only one Premier League match in 2019-20, so Solskjaer's perception of Maguire and the Ivory Coast international having been a force as a unit last season comes only from minimal evidence. 

    Solskjaer wants more from United as a whole after the harrowing defeat to a Palace side who were inspired by Wilfried Zaha, a player who was briefly in the Old Trafford ranks but allowed to get away. 

    "We're a week further down the line," said Solskjaer. "It's been a good week, some players have been training well and the work on the training ground has been good. 

    "We played well against Luton. We needed to be further down the line because last week was disappointing." 

    The Norwegian added: "After the restart in June and July we took big, big strides. Palace was a very disappointing one, but I am still confident. We need more imagination, that is for sure." 

    He skirted around a question on whether Chris Smalling could stay at United to add extra defensive depth, after a successful loan at Roma last season. 

    And regarding the possibility of incoming transfers, with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho again linked to United amid reports of a take-it-or-leave-it £90million offer, Solskjaer played a straight bat. 

    He said: "I’m very confident in my players and if and when something happens with ins and outs we'll update you." 

  • Messi slams Barcelona for 'kicking out' Suarez Messi slams Barcelona for 'kicking out' Suarez

    Lionel Messi has slammed Barcelona for "kicking out" his close friend Luis Suarez after the Uruguay striker sealed a move to Atletico Madrid.

    Barca this week let Suarez leave for Atletico in a €6million deal, with new head coach Ronald Koeman having told him he was surplus to requirements.

    Koeman's treatment of the former Liverpool star was believed to be one of the motivating factors behind Messi's desire to force a sensational exit from Camp Nou, but he said president Josep Maria Bartomeu made a move "impossible" by going back on his word to let him leave for free.

    Suarez is the third-highest scorer in Barcelona's history with 198 goals and won 13 trophies, including four LaLigas and the 2014-15 Champions League, during a six-year spell with the Catalan giants.

    Messi was angry with the way things ended for Suarez but said "at this point nothing surprises me".

    "I was already getting the idea but today [Friday] I entered the dressing room and the penny really dropped," Messi wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of him and Suarez following the latter's farewell news conference on Thursday.

    "It is going to be so difficult to not continue sharing the day to day with you, both on the pitches and away from them. We are going to miss you so much. It was many years, a lot of [yerba] mate, lunches, dinners… many things that will never be forgotten, all those days together.

    "It will be strange to see you in another shirt and more so to face you. You deserved to leave like what you are: one of the most important players in the club's history, achieving important things both as a group and individually. And not to get kicked out like they did. But the truth is that at this point nothing surprises me.

    "I wish you all the best in this new challenge. I love you very much, we love you very much. See you soon, friend."

    Suarez followed Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Nelson Semedo as the latest high-earning figure to be moved on by Barca ahead of the 2020-21 season.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.