Andres Iniesta has refused to confirm claims made by the Barcelona club president that he has agreed to sign a new contract with the club.
Club captain Iniesta, 33, who has been with the Catalan giants since joining from Albacete as a 12-year-old in 1996, has entered the final year of his contract at the Nou Camp and could opt to leave for nothing next summer.
The Spain international admitted earlier this year that for the first time in his career, he was considering taking on a new challenge. But president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has faced calls to resign after a disastrous summer for the club, claimed in a wide-ranging interview with Mundo Deportivo on Wednesday that the veteran midfielder was now close to signing a new deal, adding a formal announcement will follow in the coming weeks.
"We already have an agreement in principle to renew his contract and we hope to finalise it in the coming weeks," Bartomeu said. "We are waiting these days to keep talking but Iniesta is a player that we want to retire here and that he retires when he thinks he wants to retire.
"The idea is that he has an indefinite contract where it renews automatically every year until he thinks that he can retire or change."
That agreement might not be as close as Bartomeu would have Barcelona fans believe, however. Iniesta was questioned at El Prat airport on Wednesday, asked if a deal had been struck, bluntly replying: "No," AS report.
Iniesta is not the only Barcelona star to have entered the final year of his contract. The club had also been faced with the inexplicable prospect of losing Lionel Messi for nothing with the Argentina international still to officially sign a new contract.
However, Bartomeu has claimed that Messi's new deal has already been "agreed and signed" by his father - and the club will make the official announcement with the player soon.