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July 13, 2014

In Spain

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Messi criticizes vice-president of Barcelona

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi sits on the bench.

BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi criticized a Barcelona vice-president yesterday for saying the Argentina forward didn’t deserve a better contract.

Javier Faus, the vice-president in charge of Barcelona’s finances, said two weeks ago he didn’t see a reason to further extend Messi’s contract. Last year, the club extended the 26-year-old Messi’s contract through 2018.

“Mr. Faus is a person that doesn’t know anything about soccer and wants to run Barcelona like a business, which it isn’t,” Messi told Catalan radio RAC1. “Barcelona is the best team in the world and deserves to be represented by the best executives. I remind him that neither I nor any of my representatives have asked for a contract extension at any moment, and he knows that very well.”

The spat between Messi and Faus is unlikely to have any lasting repercussions, particularly as the player has denied wanting more money.

Messi is Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer and a four-time world player of the year. He is in Argentina recovering from a hamstring injury and expected to return to Barcelona in January.

Messi rarely speaks about the business side of his career. This is the first time he has openly criticized an important board member of the club he joined when he was 13 years old.

Besides a series of injuries, Messi’s season has also been marked by legal problems. Messi and his father Jorge are being investigated for allegedly not paying all their taxes. Messi’s father made a payment of more than five million euros (then 6.6 million dollars) on August 14 to cover alleged back taxes and interest.

Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés called for calm and downplayed any conflict between the club and its most valuable player.

“We are all pulling in the same direction in this club,” Valdés said.

Even so, it appears that a better deal for Messi could be in the works.

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell said on Thursday he had not spoken to Messi about his contract, while adding “but my door is always open. I have no doubt that the best player in the world deserves to be the highest paid.”

Messi’s wages are the highest of any soccer player at up to 21.2 million dollars a year, according to a list compiled by Forbes magazine in May.

He was the third-highest earner overall including sponsorship deals behind number one David Beckham and second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona says Messi will begin a period of physical rehabilitation to complete his recovery from a leg injury.

Barça says medical tests “confirmed the good progress” of Messi’s left hamstring tear and that now he will focus on building up the strength in his leg.

Messi hasn’t played since hurting his leg on November 29. Barcelona expects him to return to the pitch in early January.

AP, Reuters

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