BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi criticized a Barcelona vice president on Friday for saying the Argentina forward didn't deserve a better contract.
Javier Faus, the vice president in charge of Barcelona's finances, said two weeks ago he didn't see a reason to extend Messi's contract. Last year, the club extended the 26-year-old Messi's contract through 2018.
"Mr. Faus is a person that doesn't know anything about football and wants to run Barcelona like a business, which it isn't," Messi told Catalan radio RAC1. "Barcelona is the best team in the world and deserves to be represented by the best executives.
"I remind him that neither I nor any of my representatives have asked for a contract extension at any moment, and he knows that very well."
Messi is Barcelona's all-time leading scorer and a four-time world player of the year. He is in Argentina recovering from a hamstring injury and expected to return to Barcelona in January.
Messi rarely speaks about the business side of his career. This is the first time he has openly criticized an important board member of the club since he joined as a 13-year-old.
Besides a series of injuries, Messi's season has also been marked by legal problems. Messi and his father Jorge are being investigated for allegedly not paying all their taxes. Messi's father made a payment of more than $6.6 million on Aug. 14 to cover back taxes and interest.
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes called for calm and downplayed any conflict between the club and its most valuable player.
"We are all pulling in the same direction in this club," Valdes said.
Even so, it appears that a better deal for Messi could be in the works.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell said Thursday he had not spoken to Messi about his contract, while adding "but my door is always open. I have no doubt that the best player in the world deserves to be the highest paid."