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Saturday 10 December 2016

'Messi to end career at Barcelona' - president

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is convinced Lionel Messi will sign a new contract and end his career with the LaLiga champions.

The Argentina international, whose current deal expires in the summer of 2018, has yet to agree new terms, sparking speculation he could leave the Catalan club.

Bartomeu, however, is confident the 29-year-old will remain at the Nou Camp.

Speaking at the announcement of a lucrative four-year sponsorship deal with Japanese technology company Rakuten, Bartomeu said: "I believe we've got a team with incredible players, all of them.

"There is nonetheless a leader of course, Leo Messi, he is well known and popular all over the world.

"We're all convinced, we're all positive Leo Messi will end his sporting career in Barca.

"All the members of Barca believe this is how it has to be, because he is the player that in the last few years has brought us sporting success."

The new sponsorship agreement will see Rakuten replace Qatar Airways on the front of Barca's shirts from the start of next season and, according to fcbarcelona.com, will earn the club 355 million euros (£47m) a year.

Bartomeu revealed Barca defender Gerard Pique and his popstar wife Shakira helped the club negotiate the deal with Rakuten chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani.

"Gerard Pique and his wife Shakira are very close friends with Mr Mikitani," Bartomeu said.

"It was in the summer of 2015, Gerard organised a dinner in San Francisco during our summer tour.

"At that dinner we met Mr Mikitani, who was, for us, an incredible person."

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