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May 19, 2014

Uncertainty surrounds new Messi deal

ESPN's Jeremy Schapp sits down for an exclusive interview with Lionel Messi.

Confusion over whether Lionel Messi has agreed a new contract with Barcelona is continuing, with the player suggesting on social media that he is not sure whether he is staying and amid conflicting reports in the Spanish media.

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On Friday, Barca announced that the four-time Ballon D'Or winner had ended prolonged speculation over his future by agreeing a new deal.

However, there was no confirmation of that from Messi or his camp either before or after Barclona missed out on the La Liga title, which was won by Atletico Madrid after a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou on the season's final day.

Speculation in the Madrid media suggested some final details had yet to be ironed out and that Messi's camp were unhappy with some Barca fans for whistling him after a subdued performance during that match.

On Monday, Catalan station TV3, reported by AS, and Sport both said Messi had been to the Camp Nou to sign the new deal before heading off to Argentina to begin preparations for the World Cup.

However a statement on his official account on a Chinese social media site did not mention any new agreement and appeared to suggest he could still leave if he did not receive the "affection" of the "people" at Barcelona.

"The truth is that things have not gone as we expected -- it was a tough year, both personally and in the group," the message said.

"We had the chance to achieve an objective in the final game and we did not know how to take advantage of that. I just apologise to all Barcelonismo and promise that next year we will return to be at the heights required by the club.

"About my own situation, I am happy to stay at my home [Barcelona], as I have always said. This year was not one of my best. But I am convinced that, the same as with the group, next year will be different for me personally.

"It is the people in Barcelona who have to decide what to do about my future, but my choice is to stay once I feel the same affection from them. If not, then I will look for another solution because I will always want the best for this club."

Messi's current deal, which contains a 250 million euro release clause, is due to end in June 2018. Those details are reportedly set to remain unchanged, but Spanish media reports have claimed he will receive a pay rise from 13 million euros to around 20 million euros net a season.

Talks over an improved deal began in the autumn, and there has also been speculation -- dismissed last week by Messi as "crazy stuff" -- that Barca had considered putting him up for sale and using the 250 million euro fee for a complete overhaul of the squad in the summer.

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