Lionel Messi contract talks are ‘progressing’, says Barcelona president Joan Laporta but talkSPORT told Argentina is now ‘more important’ to superstar

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has reiterated the club’s confidence that Lionel Messi will sign a new deal, insisting contract talks are ‘progressing’.

Incredibly, one of football’s greatest ever players in Messi is currently clubless as his Camp Nou contract expired on July 1.

How Barcelona fans will be feeling with Messi’s contract talks not sewn up

He’s been linked with a move away, however, it’s thought he will extend his stay with the LaLiga giants.

On how negotiations are coming along, Laporta said: “[Messi’s renewal] is progressing adequately.”

Not that he needs it but Messi’s stock rose higher at the weekend as he helped Argentina to their first Copa America title since 1993 with a 1-0 win over rivals and host nation Brazil.

Messi, who captains Argentina, unsurprisingly played a huge role in making them champions of South America.

Messi scored three goals at the tournament but Vickery is more impressed by how much his leadership skills have come on
The players rushing over to Messi at the final whistle prove how much respect as a person he has gained from his peers, believes Vickery

And South American football expert Tim Vickery believes that for the first time in Messi’s glittering career, country means more to him than what happens at his club.

Vickery also suggested Messi’s improvement in his leadership skills have contributed to Argentina’s success this summer.

Vickery told talkSPORT: “After the shambles of the World Cup three years ago, where Argentina were just appalling, Messi had a decision to make. Will he stay play international football or not? He decided he was and decided to go all in.

“There was a feeling in the Argentina camp he was in his own little world, he’d only talk to his mate Sergio Aguero and his self-contained nature intimidated some of the players.

Can Messi drag Argentina to World Cup glory at Qatar next year?

“Starting from the previous Copa America two years ago, we saw a completely different Messi, totally different. Di Maria was saying he liked this Messi – a vocal, encouraging Messi.

“You couldn’t shut him up! He would front up all the media stuff, he was an encouraging figure around the training field and on the pitch – he even picked up a suspension at the end of the cup for accusing the whole thing of being corrupt!

“That Messi is totally integrated into the team now as a footballer, he’s got that circuit of passing with Giovani Lo Celso, Rodrygo De Paul and Leandro Paredes that works really well, he’s got a growing relationship with the centre forward Lautaro Martinez. He’s also more integrated than he’s ever been as a human being.

“For the first time in his career, especially because he’s out of contract, Argentina is more important to him than Barcelona. You saw the reaction of the Argentina players when the final whistle blew, they all ran to him.”