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May 7, 2014

Messi wants Barca assurances - reports

ESPN's Jeremy Schaap sits down with Argentina captain Lionel Messi to discuss the Albiceleste's chances at the World Cup.

Before signing a new Barcelona contract Lionel Messi wants assurances about the club's plans to strengthen the squad, perhaps including the signing of Sergio Aguero from Manchester City, according to widespread reports in Spain.

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Messi's current contract ends in June 2018 and contains a release clause of 250 million euros. Talks on an improved deal have been ongoing since last autumn, with the Argentine player's camp reportedly keen to ensure a pay-rise to ensure he overtakes Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and club colleague Neymar as the world's best-paid player.

Negotiations dragging on so long has led to speculation in Spain and elsewhere that other clubs -- including City and even Real Madrid -- might look to tempt the four-time Ballon d'Or winner away from the Camp Nou.

The latest meeting reportedly took place on Tuesday between Messi's father and agent Jorge and Blaugrana vice-president Javier Faus and director general Antoni Rossich, details of which were widely leaked and spun in various Catalan media.

Local paper Sport claimed that a future 20 million euro net annual salary has already been agreed, but Messi, 26, is keen to know the board's plans for new signings before he puts pen to paper -- and has suggested his long-time friend and Argentina colleague Aguero should be brought to the Camp Nou from England.

Catalan station TV3 also said that Messi was keen to play alongside Aguero for club as well as country, and that he would also like his friend Jose Pinto, 38, to get another year's contract as back-up goalkeeper. They also said a deal could be sealed before May 19, when the Argentina captain leaves to join up with his national squad ahead of the World Cup.

Mundo Deportivo, which is considered to be particularly close to the Barca directors, said it was a "very positive meeting," at which the Messi camp made clear their approval of the club's plan to bring in current Celta Vigo boss Luis Enrique as coach for next season.

MD also reported that another meeting between the Messi camp and Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu was planned, and could take place as early as Wednesday.

Bartomeu was not present at Tuesday's talks as he was in Zurich meeting with FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Barca's statement on that meeting made clear that Blatter would not intervene personally in the club's appeal against the transfer ban imposed last month after it was found guilty of breaching youth transfer rules.

"The meeting also dealt with general issues relating to the protection of minors, without touching on specifics given that President Blatter does not take any part in FIFA's Disciplinary Commission's decision making, or in FC Barcelona's current appeal process," the statement said.

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