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Barcelona will find Lionel Messi contract formula - CEO Oscar Grau

FC's Gab Marcotti discusses how hard it will be for Barca to keep Lionel Messi and make him the world's best paid player.
ESPN FC's Sid Lowe weighs in on Barcelona's claim that they'll make Messi the best-paid player as wages in China skyrocket.

Barcelona CEO Oscar Grau has called for patience as the club continue to work on a new deal for Lionel Messi.

Messi is into the last 18 months of his contract and some reports in Spain claimed at the end of last year that he was considering his future.

However, Barca remain confident that he will commit to the club and president Josep Maria Bartomeu suggested before Christmas that they were willing to make him the world's best paid player.

But Grau, speaking in Barcelona on Wednesday, was more cautious and said: "We're working hard to renew Messi.

"We're keen to get it done and I am sure we will find the formula. By saying this I want to reassure supporters, because when you have the best [in the world] it would be stupid to let him escape."

With wages in football soaring, Bartomeu's promise to make Messi the sport's top earner means negotiations may not be straightforward.

Luis Suarez and Neymar both signed improved contracts in 2016, and Grau stressed: "It's a matter that has to be analysed with a cool head and common sense.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is in the last 18 months of his contract at the Camp Nou.

"Barca cannot spend more than 70 percent of the budget on salaries, therefore we have make sure things balance.

"One option is to increase revenue, as we hope to with our strategic plan [to bring in €1billion annually by 2021].

"We want to have the best, but we must always prioritise. The objective is for the best player in the world to stay at Barcelona and it's the same with everyone, although especially with those that were formed in La Masia, who I think should retire here."

Grau was also asked about the possibility of the club getting involved in the January transfer window.

Darijo Srna is one of several right-backs to be linked with taking the place of the out-of-favour Aleix Vidal, but there will be no signings unless players depart first.

"It's a matter we want to work on with discretion, while keeping our budget in mind," Grau said.

"If there are no outgoings, though, there will be no incomings. If an opportunity comes up, we will look into it."

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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