Barcelona legend Lionel Messi will never leave the club according to the president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The Argentine has long established himself as arguably the greatest player to have ever played professional football.
Messi: The key stats
- Apps: 683 – Made his debut for Barcelona in 2004
- Goals: 600 – a goal every 1.13 games in all competitions.
- Honours: La Liga x 10, Champions League x 4, Cope del Rey x 6, Supercopa de Espana x 7, Uefa Super Cup x 3 & Fifa Club World Cup x 3.
- The Catalonia legend’s contract expires at the end of the 2020/21 season.
- The 31-year-old scored a sensational free-kick in Barcelona’s 3-0 Champions League semi-final first leg win over Liverpool on Wednesday.
Once again, Messi ran the show as recently crowned La Liga champions Barcelona defeated a spirited Liverpool 3-0 at the Camp Nou, with a Messi double helping secure a vital first-leg victory.
His second goal in particular – a free kick that sailed into the top corner of Reds goalkeeper Alisson’s goal – has drawn further praise for the talented forward, prompting the club to comment on his future with the champions of Spain.
Barcelona president Bartomeu has spoken in depth to reporters about Messi’s impending future, acknowledging that he won’t be with them forever.
However, he believes Messi will remain with the club until the day he retires, which could be over 10 years from now. He said: “He might even play until he’s 45, who knows?
“We know he’ll play three, four, five years more, we don’t know how many – as many as he wants.
“We’re preparing. Players like [Ousmane] Dembele, [Clement] Lenglet, Arthur are there to build a team for when Messi stops playing, but I still see it as a long way off.
“I don’t think that day is near. And we tell the players who play and train with him: ‘Make the most of every minute’.
“We are talking to the family but it’s very early to say. He’s a footballer. So we talk football, but he will stay here with us. He’s a club man.
“I talk always about Pele, who was always associated with Santos, the only place he played.
“Leo belongs to world football, but he has always lived at Barca. He will be a one-club man. Leo will never leave. He’ll stop playing, but he’ll always be with us.”
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A man who can no longer surprise
Messi’s free-kick against Liverpool – and overall performance – was absolutely astonishing, yet it is only what we expect from the majestic playmaker.
This season, Messi has more goals than games in Barcelona’s two biggest competitions, 46 goals in 41 La Liga and Champions League outings so far this campaign.
34 of those have come in the league, which Barcelona have wrapped up already with games to spare. However, the season could end brighter still for Messi and his teammates, who have the chance to seal a famous treble before the season is out.
Their 3-0 Champions League semi-final first leg victory against Liverpool almost has them into the final where they will be favourites against either Tottenham Hotspur or Ajax.
Then, of course, they have a Copa del Rey final to attend to, with Europa League semi-finalists Valencia standing in the way of Messi getting his hands on his seventh triumph in that competition.
Would you bet against Barcelona winning all three?