Lionel Messi has rejected the offer of a new contract with Barcelona, Spanish newspaper Marca claims.

The Argentina captain’s current deal with the Catalan giants expires in 2018 and he is now expected to wait until that time before deciding on his future.

The news will come as a blow to Barca, who were hoping that the current Ballon d’Or holder would see out his career with the club he has represented since moving to Europe from South America in 2001.

Messi’s legal disputes with the Spanish authorities are said to be behind the decision, after he was found guilty of tax evasion in July this year.

The forward was handed a 21-month suspended prison sentence, along with his father Jorge, who is reported to have informed Barca of his son’s reluctance to agree a new deal.

Last month the club tied down another of their superstars, Neymar, to a contract which will keep him with the La Liga champions until 2021.

However, they must now turn their attention to Messi and try to convince the 29-year-old that his long-term ambitions are best served by remaining at the Camp Nou.

Although there is every possibility that he will eventually sign on the dotted line, the record-breaking superstar’s Barcelona career has never looked in such doubt.

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