Barcelona star Lionel Messi is keeping tight-lipped over rumours that he may leave the La Liga champions when his contract expires in 2018. Messi is neither confirming nor denying a report in the Marca newspaper that the player has told Barcelona that he does not intend to renew his contract. The player’s representatives said that Messi would not be making any comments related to the story.

Marca claimed that Messi told the club about his alleged decision in July, not long after he and his father were convicted of defrauding Spanish tax authorities — something that Marca said played a major role in the player’s decision-making process. Messi and his father have denied any wrongdoing and said they would appeal.

Some publications in Barcelona challenged the story by the Madrid-based Marca. The daily denied that its report came in retaliation for Messi not showing up at a recent awards ceremony organized by the newspaper.

The 29-year-old Messi arrived at Barcelona as a teenager from Argentina, and has never publicly talked about being unhappy at the club.

The five-time player of the year has become the face of Barcelona and has four Champions League titles and eight Spanish league triumphs.

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