Despite sources indicating recently that Barcelona star and four-time Ballon d’Or Award winner Lionel Messi may seek an exit from Camp Nou, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said recently that his star talent wants to remain with the La Liga giants. Papers based in Madrid claimed last week that the 26-year-old Argentine National star was growing unhappy with his Spanish club and should a team be willing to drop the 200 million-euro release clause attached to him, Messi might be willing to depart. Though Manchester City was the squad initially linked to the Sante Fe, Argentina native, Bartomeu holds confidence that No. 10 will stay put. The Barca boss also says he expects head coach Gerardo Martino to return after completing his first season on the sideline.

“Messi does not want to leave Barcelona, that is what I think,” he said. “He came up through the ranks at our club, and is having an unbelievable career. I do not believe anyone will play the clause. I believe that if someday Messi wants to leave, we will try and convince him to change his mind. I hope that Tata Martino has a long life as Barca coach as well, but the day that changes we will have another technical team. We will look for the best option. We would like him to stay. The contract says that.”

Through 27 Spanish Primera Division games this season, Messi and Barcelona find themselves four points behind table-leading Real Madrid for the top spot in the 20-club league. While they continue to move up the table – with Atletico Madrid holding a one-point edge for second place – the Catalan club is also focused on advancing to the quarterfinal stage in the 2013-2014 UEFA Champions League. Thanks to a 2-0 defeat of Manchester City in the Round of 16 opening leg, Messi and company are in the driver’s seat heading into the final leg Wednesday at Camp Nou.

Following the strong UCL performance, the Barca forward praised his side’s effort in taking down an extremely talented City squad. Despite the early success however, Messi understands that nothing will be solidified until Barcelona puts forth a repeat performance in Leg No. 2, a performance that will be aided by the overall health of the soccer star.

“We won against a really good team with really great players,” he said. “But it wasn’t the final result. We still have a second match. Nothing is finished. I think I would have to say that I was a little less than 100 per cent in that first match. But slowly I have been feeling better with every single day and every single match. I have been getting back into shape little by little, so by the time we play Manchester City again I will be fully fit. It was a really good win for us at City because we got our confidence back for the big Champions League nights. We proved that we are still a really good team when it matters.”