Barcelona president Bartomeu reassures fans over Lionel Messi
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says he will personally deal with Lionel Messi's contract renewal after a week that saw more concerns raised about the Argentine's future at the club.
CEO Oscar Grau suggested the club would have to use "common sense" when negotiating the finances of the contract in comments which some interpreted as a move to get Messi to lower his wage demands.
Pere Gratacos was then removed from his director role at the club on Friday after saying Messi "would not be as good without without [Andres] Iniesta, Neymar and [Gerard] Pique."
However, Bartomeu has reassured the club's supporters that negotiations remain on track and that both parties are keen to reach an agreement as soon possible.
"There are no nerves at all," he told TV3 on Saturday. "I want to reassure everyone [about that]. I will handle the talks in person to ensure Messi stays here.
"Everything will be done with discretion. He's the best player in the world, we want him to stay here and we're working on that. We're talking with his people, we want him to stay here and he wants to stay.
"It is an essential renewal for the club. The sooner it's finalised, the better. We will do whatever it takes. All parties want to come to an agreement, so there has to be a happy ending. Hopefully he retires at the club.
"So I want to reassure the supporters that there are no nerves. We are very aware of what is at stake."
Bartomeu added that he felt Grau's comments had been misinterpreted, but he admitted that Gratacos erred when talking about Messi after Friday's Copa del Rey draw in Madrid.
"After talking to him he realised that what he said wasn't right and he won't represent the club [as a director] anymore," he said.
"Messi is the best player ever and he shows it in every game. A football team has 11 players, but Messi is the leader. [Gratacos' remark] was not appropriate, but he will continue with his daily work [at La Masia], which is excellent."
Messi's contract expires in 2018 and this week's drama led to further reports that Manchester City and Manchester United could reawaken their interest in him.
However, Bartomeu's comments echo the widely held belief inside the club that Messi, like Neymar and Luis Suarez last year, will pen new terms in the coming months.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.