Lionel Messi is in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the Spanish club’s sporting director Eric Abidal has confirmed.
The Argentina international has spent 18 years with Barca but his future has been called into question after it emerged earlier this year he can leave Camp Nou for free at the end of any season.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is officially contracted to the La Liga champions until 2021, but Abidal is hopeful fresh terms can soon be agreed.
“They are already talking,” he told Mundo Deportivo. “I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible.”
Asked when he expects an agreement to be announced, Abidal said: “It will be known when it is known, but I am positive.
Last month marked 15 years since Messi made his Barcelona debut at the age of 17. Since then he has gone on to score 600 goals in 698 appearances, winning a club-record 34 trophies including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions Leagues and six Copa del Reys.
He has extended his contract eight times since 2005 with his latest deal, signed in November 2017, making him the best-paid player in La Liga worth a reported £500,000 a week.
The deal also includes a mammoth €700m release fee, though it has since been reported that the contract also contains a clause allowing him to leave for a team outside Europe at the end of any season.
Despite being 32, his skills and importance to the side show no signs of diminishing, with Barcelona making their worst start to a season in 25 years while Messi was sidelined through injury.
However, since making his first start of the campaign against Villarreal in September Barca have won eight out of 10 matches in all competitions, with Messi scoring nine goals in 11 appearances.
Meanwhile, Abidal also confirmed academy product Ansu Fati is in line for a contract extension, having impressed in his breakthrough campaign.
“We are also talking to him,” Abidal said. “He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives.”