According to reports in Spanish media Lionel Messi will see out his Barcelona contract but has rejected signing a new deal.

The report in the newspaper Marca says that Messi will play until the contract ends in 2018 and then make a decision regarding his future. It is thought that Messi’s ongoing dispute with the Spanish tax authorities is one of the main reasons behind his decision.

Messi was recently given a 21-month prison sentence for tax evasion after he and his father were accused of using tax havens to hide more than £3 million of earnings.

The report said that Messi informed Barcelona of his intention to see out his current contract last July while he was on holiday with his family.

However, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph last month Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu appeared to be confident about retaining Messi saying “I don’t know what will happen in the future but of course we will always try to explain to him that he is at the best club in the world and this is the best place for him to live and he is living the best experience of his life with us”

Last month Neymar signed a new-five year deal with the club and Baromeu said that the club will soon start negotiations with Messi.

If Messi were to become available then Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has made it clear that he would be keen to sign him. However, he recognised that there will be many clubs that would be keen to sign him and that it would be a very competitive market. Ultimately though he said that it will be down to Messi.

At present Barcelona are second in the La Liga table behind rivals Real Madrid who hold a two point lead.