Exclusive: Barcelona and Messi negotiating forward's contract renewal

Laporta and Jorge Messi have held several conversations in recent days

| sport

Lluís Mascaró

FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi have begun to negotiate the forward's contract renewal, with his current terms due to expire on June 30.

Barça president Joan Laporta and Messi's father and agent, Jorge Messi, have held several conversations in recent days in which they have started to define the Argentina international's future link to the club.

The final offer, both financial and sporting, though, is dependent on the result of an exhaustive internal audit on the club's economic position.

In the first negotiations between Laporta and Jorge Messi, they have touched bases on an agreement. The Barça chief has explained the details of the contract he has in mind. It's a proposal that has been welcomed by the Messis. Both parties have a clear idea but, even though progress has been mind, the details still need to be ironed out.

The plan is for a contract that links Messi to the club for life, beyond his playing career.

One of Messi's main concerns is the project on the pitch for next season. He's always said that's more important than money, so strong is his desire to win, or at least compete for, the Champions League. That's not happened in recent seasons. The signings this summer will also depend on the audit and on sales, although it's clear Erling Haaland is the No.1 objective.

There's still a long way to go, but the first step has been taken. And with a positive result. Everything indicates Messi is closer than ever to staying now, although a definitive agreement is still weeks away from reality. Laporta, Messi and Jorge Messi are on the same page, though -- unlike with the last president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and the now infamous burofax.

Laporta said after being elected in March that his desire was for Messi to stay and has always been effusive when speaking about him. The two get on well.

Meanwhile, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain monitor the situation, pending the negotiations between Messi and Barça. Both the English club and the French club are interested in him, keeping in mind he could arrive for free when his Camp Nou contract expires on June 30.

Messi, as he promised, is listening to Barça's offer before making any final decision on his future.

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