Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Espanyol last weekend. Photo: Manu Fernandez/AP

Under-fire Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has moved to appease fans by claiming Lionel Messi is already playing under a five-year contract, which has been signed on behalf of the player by his father.

The club announced in July that their all-time leading goal-scorer, whose deal was due to expire at the end of this season, had signed an extension to 2021, yet the lack of official confirmation thereafter caused concern among the fan-base.

Bartomeu claimed on Catalan television that the deal has been done and runs through to 2022.

“We’ll take an official photo of Messi signing it, but there’s no rush,” Bartomeu told 8TV.

“Hopefully before the end of the year, but the contract itself has been signed by his father on behalf of the player, as well as that of his foundation’s and image contracts.

“He doesn’t need to sign it, given his father has. He’s currently playing under the deal, which comes under last season’s books.

“It runs until 2022 and if he wants, he can of course renew it and play at the new Camp Nou stadium. There’s no better test to his commitment than to see him play.”