Barcelona send birthday message to Messi as contract expires

FC Barcelona sent birthday greetings to Lionel Messi as the club captain turned 34 on Thursday, at a time when his future remains unresolved.

The man who holds a near clean sweep of individual club records has yet to sign a new contract, with his deal due to expire at the end of June.

There was customary warmth towards Messi in the social media posts by Barcelona, who showcased a reel of his 10 best goals.

They must hope he has more birthdays to come while serving at Camp Nou.

Messi, whose career has been a one-club odyssey, is currently on Copa America duty in Brazil with the Argentina national team.

He is Barcelona’s record goal scorer and has made more appearances for the club than any other player, also winning an unsurpassed six Ballon d’Or trophies while with the Catalan giants.

Messi sought to leave Barcelona in 2019, looking to exercise a clause in his contract that he believed allowed him to depart at the end of the season.

The club disputed his right to go and, faced with the prospect of a legal battle to try to free himself from his deal, Messi rowed back on that intention.

He finished as top scorer in La Liga with 30 goals – seven more than any other player – and helped Barcelona win the Copa del Rey under new boss Ronald Koeman.

The election of Joan Laporta as club president appears to have been taken as a positive step forward by Messi.

“He wants to stay,” said Laporta recently, speaking at the presentation of a TV3 documentary about Messi.

“I do not contemplate a no. But it isn’t easy. We’ll do what we can.” (STATS Perform/dpa/NAN)

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