Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu have rumors of star player Lionel Messi leaving the club before his contract expires saying the Argentine is the pillar of the Club’s next project.

Following Barça’s disgraceful defeat in the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinal, there has been speculations in the media that a distressed Messi will leave the club before his contract expires in 2021.

But Barcelona have other plans for the Argentine star particularly with the appointment of Ronald Koeman to take over from Quique Setien as head coach.

Bartomeu said: “I have spoken with Koeman and the pillar of our project is Messi. He has a contract until 2021.

“I speak a lot with Leo and more regularly with his father.

“He is No 1 in the world. There is no doubt that in Koeman’s new project you can count on Messi.”

In other news, former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho who is on loan to Bayern Munich from Barcelona, may become Messi’s teammate again.

Coutinho came off the bench to score two goals against his parent club in the Champions League quarterfinal which saw Barcelona disgraced out of the league by Bayern Munich.

However, Barcelona are considering having the Brazil international back.

“The head coach will make the decision,” said Bartomeu. “If he wants him to continue, next year he will play with us.”

Coutinho has been linked with a possible return to the Premier League.