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Abidal: Messi's Barcelona contract renewal "never easy"

Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal discussed Neymar and contract extensions with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in an interview with Mundo Deportivo.

Lionel Messi of Barcelona.

Barcelona sporting director, Eric Abidal, has said he hopes Lionel Messi will extend his contract with the club but admitted the operation will not be easy.

Speculation intensified that Messi could look for a move away from Camp Nou following a spat between him and Abidal over comments the latter made about player motivation in an interview with Mundo Deportivo earlier this week.

On Saturday, the Catalan daily published the second part of that interview with the sporting director, in which he was asked about Barcelona’s efforts to renew Messi’s contract. The 32-year-old forward’s current deal expires in June, 2021.

“The question is for him, hopefully he continues,” said Abidal.

“Leo said that Barça is everything for him, that he wants to stay here, from there, there will be conditions. We are talking about the best player in the world and having a renewal with player of this kind is never easy.”

Eric Abidal.
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Messi wants "rolling year-on-year" deal

Following the controversy that ensued after the first part of the Abidal interview was published a few days ago, Messi was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City to reunite with former Barça coach, Pep Guardiola.

However Guardiola himself has dismissed the reports, stating he believes Messi has every intention of finishing his career at Camp Nou.

Meanwhile, Sky Sports has reported that Messi is still open to discussing an extension with Barcelona, although the Argentine player would prefer “a rolling year-by-year” contract, rather than the life-time deal previously proposed by president, Josep Bartomeu.

Abidal and Messi together in
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Abidal and Messi together inGustau NacarinoREUTERS

Abidal on Neymar and Luis Suarez

Abidal was also quizzed about recent comments made by new coach Quique Setién, who admitted that he would “love” to have Neymar among his squad so that he could watch the Brazil star “every day”.

“I totally agree because if you ask him about any top player, he will tell you the same,” Abidal responded. “For Quique it would also be a source of pride to be able to train a player like Neymar.”

Messi’s strike partner, Luis Suarez, will also see his current deal expire in 2021. The 33-year-old forward was ruled out for the majority of the rest of the season following knee surgery in January.

Asked if Suarez’s age and the injury would have any impact on talks with the Uruguayan international, Abidal responded: “No, first you have to have respect for the players, for what they are giving, what they gave and what they will give for the club.

“Now he is injured, hopefully he will recover well and from there, we’ll just talk. If we as a club see it well, of course we will enter into negotiations and he will also have to tell us how he feels because in the end it is respect for the club and for the team.”