Agusti Benedito has waded into the growing debate surrounding Lionel Messi’s contract situation and has warned Barcelona they are “playing with fire”.
According to Josep Maria Bartomeu, the new contract was agreed in July but as we near the end of August, Messi is yet to apply his signature to the renewal.
While there is nothing to suggest Messi won’t sign on, the current climate surrounding the club has left many nervous that like Neymar, he could be lured away.
Benedito says he is worried about the current situation surrounding Messi and that it’s entirely possible he could leave Camp Nou.
"I am almost convinced that Messi, like all the players at Barca, is seeing the severity of the institutional situation at the club.
“I think Leo's waiting to see what happens with the vote of no confidence, the signings that are made, how things are going in October, November... He's going to wait and wait.
"And with the way Bartomeu is going, with the team he's building, I think it's really clear that Leo, free, without a clause ... it could be worse than the Neymar case. It would surprise me a lot if Messi signed his deal before the end of September, October...
"Bartomeu said in July that Messi had signed -- but he's still not signed. He is playing with fire. He said it to distract [from other problems], to change public opinion...
"But he's still not been able to get Messi to sign. And if he's still not signed, it's because he's not certain. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's possible that Messi doesn't sign [the renewal]. It's worrying."
Source ESPN FC
The departure of Neymar, the demoralising defeat to Real Madrid and the club’s inability to bring in top-quality signings, means there is still a fair amount of pessimism around at the moment.
However, should Barca manage to bring in some big-names before the close of the transfer window, as Bartomeu has promised(!), that could quickly change.
There has been little to suggest Messi is in any way considering leaving, and he insisted back in June once again that he wants to finish his career at Camp Nou.
However, the sooner his new contract is signed, the better. This is one deal the board simply cannot afford to get wrong.