Lionel Messi isn’t considering a new contract extension with Barcelona at this time, per Marca. The Spanish paper says Messi told the club he wants to wait until his current deal expires in the summer of 2018 before renewing.
This reported decision leaves his future up in the air a bit, though it seems like his intention is to remain with the Spanish club. Messi has long been linked, albeit unrealistically, with a move to England, while there have also been talks about him wanting to finish his career in Argentina. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has only played for Barcelona at the top club level and many feel that he will finish his career there.
But not everyone is believing Monday’s news. Sport suggests that the story was fabricated as a retaliation for Messi not attending the Marca awards ceremony on Oct. 25.
It has never seemed likely that Messi would play elsewhere in Europe, and the only club that makes sense for him to play for outside of the Spanish giants is Argentine club Newell’s, where he started as a youth player. The Rosario-based club likes its chances of signing him down the road.
One important thing to keep an eye on is the 2018 World Cup. Messi abruptly decided to leave the Argentina national team this past summer after losing the Copa American final to Chile, only to then not miss a game and return under new manager Edgardo Bauza in September. If Argentina were to win the 2018 World Cup, perhaps Messi could retire early, thus not wanting to renew his contract just yet, but he has not hinted at that. That, however, would be a bit far-fetched, because as it stands right now Argentina is currently on the outside looking in when it comes to Russia 2018, with plenty of work ahead to get the under-performing national team to qualify. It doesn’t make much sense for Messi to be thinking about winning the cup and retiring when there is a chance the team doesn’t even make it there.
For Barca fans, this news shouldn’t be terribly upsetting as Messi has been one of the most loyal Barca players in history. He might just be keeping his options open, but the most probable option still feels like him resigning with Barca. He will be 31 at the end of his current deal, an age where he will still have plenty to offer at the highest level.