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Ivan Rakitic is optimistic Lionel Messi will remain at Barcelona beyond next summer despite speculation over his future rumbling on.

The Argentina forward agreed a new deal until 2021 with the Nou Camp club in July but did not sign paperwork at first.

La Liga’s president Javier Tebas claimed earlier this month a contract has now been signed, although questions remain over whether that is the case.

Rakitic, speaking at a news conference ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League meeting with Juventus, said he wants to keep playing alongside Messi for the next few years.

He said: “Leo’s part of the club’s badge. I am confident he will stay. He is not just a very important player, he is more than that, looking at his career, how much he means for Barca.

“I can’t say 100 per cent if he will stay or not. That’s his decision and you have to respect what each person thinks or does.

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“We know the fans want to see the picture, the handshake; I do, too. I want to play with Leo tomorrow, three years, five years in the future.

“The only thing we can say as team-mates is we want him to stay. He has all our support and we enjoy being with him.

“From what I have read and been told, things are going well. I have confidence in the president and in Leo and I know he wants to be with us.”

Messi’s future has been the matter for much debate ever since the terms of his new contract were agreed almost five months ago.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu moved to reassure supporters in September the deal had been signed, albeit by the player’s father.

The club then said they would offer him a contract for life in October similar to that signed around the same time by Andres Iniesta.

There are fears Messi could leave for nothing when his current terms expire and if the new contract does indeed remain unsigned, he will be free to talk to other teams in January.

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