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The details of Lionel Messi’s bumper Barcelona contract were recently leaked in the Spanish press and the club’s former player Rivaldo believes it is “damaging for the club and player” and that Messi will leave at the end of the season. Messi attempted to force through a transfer before the start of the current campaign but he was ultimately unsuccessful.
Barcelona are hopeful that they can convince him to stay but the contract leak will not help their cause.
Manager Ronald Koeman furiously defended Messi and called for the person who leaked the information to be sacked if it turned out that they worked for Barcelona.
“What has come out is intended to damage him. Messi deserves respect,” Koeman said.
“He has done so much for Spanish football. There are people out to hurt Barcelona and Messi. If it turns out to be someone on the inside then that is very bad and they should have no future at the club.”
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Speaking to Betfair, Rivaldo claimed that “it looks increasingly likely” Messi will leave, saying: “A leak revealed details about Messi’s contract with Barcelona this week.
“That’s not good and is potentially damaging for the club and player, but I think we shouldn’t get bogged down in discussing it.
“We need to remember what the player has done for the club. His contribution has been superb for decades, on and off the pitch, so it isn’t fair to criticize him about any deal that he might have made for his own protection.
“Someone decided to leak this information, and they clearly had a bad agenda, seeking to divide the club a bit more in a time when things are already turbulent.
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“Messi tried to leave the club last summer and it looks increasingly likely that he’ll get his way at the end of the season.
“Barça’s manager Ronald Koeman has doubts about him staying at the club and even Juan Laporta, favourite to be the next president, only has hope of keeping him instead of a commitment from the player.
“The club should make an effort to keep him if there are the financial resources to give him a long-term contract.
“It could include a clause about a job at the club when he ends his professional career.
“This might make him consider signing a new contract. This is just a suggestion and I don’t know exactly what Messi’s aspirations are when he stops playing football.
“But Messi will continue to be huge figure in world football and staying at Barcelona – no matter what his role – would be beneficial to the club.”
Speaking to the Athletic, Koeman was asked if he was hopeful that Messi would sign a new contract and he replied: “I’m not confident about that. I’m hopeful, yes, about this because he’s still a great player and he’s still winning matches for us, for the team.
“I’m enjoying being his coach, if you look at his qualities every day in the training sessions, it’s incredible. Of course, he came as a young kid to Barcelona. And I still don’t see Leo Messi in another shirt other than the Barca shirt.”
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