Barcelona’s contract talks with Lionel Messi are “never easy”, concedes Eric Abidal, as the club are dealing with “the best player in the world”.
The Blaugrana have, until now, always been able to reach an agreement with their most prized asset when it comes to his future.
They currently have Messi tied to terms through to 2021, but had been hoping to put an extension in place and ease any fears when it comes to release clauses.
Exit talk has started to circulate around the enigmatic Argentine, with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner having taken to publicly criticising Abidal over comments made by Barca’s sporting director.
A move to Manchester City, which would deliver a reunion with Pep Guardiola, has been mooted.
Those at the Etihad Stadium have sought to play down those rumours and Barcelona remain hopeful that protracted discussions will deliver a positive conclusion at Camp Nou.
Abidal told Mundo Deportivo on Messi’s future: “The question is for him, hopefully he continues.
“Leo has said that Barca is everything for him, that he wants to stay here, there are condition from there. We are talking about the best player in the world and having a renewal with such a player is never easy.”
Messi’s fellow frontman Luis Suarez is another who will see his current deal expire at the end of next season.
The Uruguayan striker is 33 years of age and currently sidelined through injury, but has stated that he expects no issues when it comes to contract talks.
Abidal said when asked if fitness issues will impact discussions: “No, first you have to have respect for the players and what they are giving, what they gave and what they will give for the club in the future.
“Now he is in a situation of injury, hopefully he will recover well and from there, just talk.
“If we as a club feel it makes sense, of course we will enter into negotiations and he will also have to tell us how he feels because in the end it is about respect for the club and for the team.”
While suggesting that Messi and Suarez will be sticking around, Abidal remained coy when it comes to the future of Philippe Coutinho – with the Brazilian currently on loan at Bayern Munich.
“Bayern is very happy with Philippe and Philippe is also very happy there,” said Abidal.
“From there, it is true that they have a choice [to do a permanent deal], but we have to do our planning with those at home and on loan and then see what happens.”