Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has signed a new deal at the club, according to La Liga’s president Javier Tebas.
The Argentine was reportedly offered a lifetime contract at the Nou Camp in October according to Barcelona CEO Oscar Grau, after signing a four-year extension in July.
Questions still remain, however, as to whether Messi has signed any of the relevant paperwork.
“Messi has a contract which has been renewed,” Tebas told reporters. “Contracts are official when they are signed and not when it is announced that they have signed.
“Messi has signed with Barcelona, if I have not been lied to, he has signed.”
“We will take the photo with Messi’s signature, hopefully before the end of the year, but the contract has been signed by his father, who has the power of his image rights. This contract is signed until 2021 and he is already playing under it.”
Former Barcelona presidential candidate Agusti Benedito, who launched an unsuccessful vote of no-confidence against Bartomeu that same month, has disputed that.
Per Sergio Vera of Sport, he said the deal is “not valid” without Messi’s signature and added of Bartomeu: “It’s not the first time he’s lied.”
The Guardian’s Sid Lowe also took issue with Barca’s claims:
If Messi has not yet signed, he will be able to negotiate with teams in January ahead of a free transfer next summer.
The 30-year-old, who is the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, did not feature in Argentina’s 4-2 defeat to Nigeria on Tuesday.