GOAL - Lionel Messi will not leave Barcelona this summer, with the club's captain opting not to activate a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave before his deal expires at the end of June next year.
As part of the four-year extension signed in 2017, Messi included stipulations that he could leave the club for free at the end of any given season , so long as he made the club aware of his intentions before June 1 of each year.
Speculation over whether the Blaugrana and Argentina captain could leave Camp Nou had been circulating once again after former Inter president Massimo Moratti claimed it was possible that the Nerazzurri could make a move for the 32-year-old.
Through his social media accounts, Messi himself recently denied that he would be leaving the Catalan side for pastures new, and sources close to the player have confirmed the forward's intention to remain with Barca until at least the summer of 2021.
It remains to be seen whether the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will continue in Catalunya beyond next summer, with a public falling out with the club's hierarchy casting doubt on Messi's long-term future at Camp Nou.
Speaking in November of last year, however, current Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu made it clear that it is the club's wish to ensure their star player continues his storied career with the Blaugrana for several more years to come.
"Surely it will be the wish of all parties, if he feels strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely," Bartomeu told the press.
"Ultimately it is he who must decide. He has earned the right to decide when he will stop playing football. But he wants to finish his playing career at Barcelona.
"Over the next two or three seasons our leader will continue to be Leo Messi. There's no doubt that he is still young, still strong. He is still ambitious.
"So Leo Messi will still play with us for the next two, three, four or five years. I have no doubts about that."
Messi is set to return to action following the coronavirus-enforced suspension of football, with LaLiga preparing to kick off again on Thursday, June 11.