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Barcelona play down Lionel Messi exit fears

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has told Diario Sport that Lionel Messi’s contract renewal is effectively already signed and rejected fears a club could trigger the €300 million buyout clause in the new deal.

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Bartomeu said the extension – officially announced by the club in July – is missing only “the official photograph and the protocol of the signature” as he sought to play down fears that the 30-year-old could walk away from the Camp Nou.

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Former Barca presidential candidate Agusti Benedito launched a no-confidence vote against him on Friday, suggesting, among other things, that Messi could leave for free when the current deal expires in the summer due to the board’s continued mismanagement of the club.

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Bartomeu, though, said the extension is “all agreed and signed,” adding: “There are three contracts.

“One with the Messi Foundation, which is signed with the president of the Foundation and the player’s brother. There’s an image rights contract with Messi, which his father has signed, who is the administrator of his company, and the employment contract, which his father has signed, who has the power to do so.”

Bartomeu had said at the end of July that Messi had signed, but the club’s vice-president, Jordi Mestre, later indicated that that was not the case.

Asked what is needed it for it to be rubber-stamped, Bartomeu has now said: “Just that Leo arrives and we have the official photograph and the protocol of the signature.

“The contract’s signed. It’s valid from the month of June, from June 30, the same day that he got married, curiously. It’s been audited because it goes into the accounts for last season. There are no problems. It’s just the protocol of the signature. We’re relaxed.

“We’ve had schedule problems. Now, he’s back on Sept. 6 or Sept. 7, then we play on Sept. 9. There are a lot of games. We will find the moment.”

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