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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Lionel Messi considers future as concerns grow over Barcelona's direction

Reports in Spain have claimed the Argentine superstar is delaying signing a new contract until he gets assurances about the club's ambitions.

Lionel Messi was offered a new contract by Barcelona at the start of July but is yet to put pen to paper. Andres Stapff / Reuters
Lionel Messi was offered a new contract by Barcelona at the start of July but is yet to put pen to paper. Andres Stapff / Reuters

Lionel Messi is considering a future away from Barcelona after becoming disillusioned with the club's direction following a tumultuous off-season, according to reports in Spain.

Barcelona endured a frustrating summer that saw Brazilian forward Neymar leave for French club Paris Saint-Germain in a world record €222 million (Dh969.3m) deal while the Primera Liga club failed to land a number of key transfer targets.

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Barca's top target, Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho, has remained at the Premier League club following four unsuccessful bids, while PSG duo Marco Veratti and Angel Di Maria were also identified but stayed in France.

Barcelona did sign Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for a club record €150m and Brazilian midfielder Paulinho but their arrivals have done little to ease the pressure on the club's board.

To compound matters further, Barca faced criticism after announcing Messi had signed a new long-term contract at the start of Juiy only for the Argentine forward to deny he had put pen to paper.

Now, according to Diario Gol, Messi is set to further delay signing a new deal as he weighs up his options. The Spanish media outlet claims Messi wants Barca to improve their dealings in the transfer market as the club face being left behind by rivals Real Madrid - the reigning Spanish, European and world champions.

Not since 2014 and the arrival of Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez from Liverpool have Barcelona captured a world class player. In the three years since, Turkish midfielder Arda Turan, Spanish forward Paco Alcacer, Portuguese midfielder Andres Gomes and French full-back Lucas Digne have all arrived and failed to significantly strengthen Barca's team.

Should it reach a stage where Messi decides to leave Barcelona, there will be no shortage of suitors for a player regarded by many as the greatest of all time.

Manchester City and a reunion with Pep Guardiola has been previously speculated, while PSG, Manchester United and Bayern Munich would be among a select group of clubs that could meet his financial status.