Lionel Messi could STAY at Barcelona beyond next summer, says presidential candidate Victor Font
Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font insists Lionel Messi can be persuaded to stay at the club if presented with a ‘competitive project’.
Messi, who has been at Barca for the entirety of his professional career, looks set to leave at the end of the season upon the expiration of his contract.
The Argentine tried to leave in the summer but eventually opted to stay for another year – yet with Manchester City firmly interested, Font believes it is possible to convince the 33-year-old to stay put for the rest of his playing days.
Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font insists Lionel Messi can be persuaded to stay
Messi looks set to leave next summer but Font believes he could stay for a ‘competitive project’
On the topic of Messi departing in 2021, Font told the BBC: ‘Obviously we know that’s a possibility because he said he wanted to leave last summer, but we are hopeful.
‘The elections are coming in 60 days and we will have a new board and a new president and a new project.
‘What Messi needs in order to stay at the club is a competitive project. He wants to win – obviously the lack of a project in recent times has affected the way we compete and therefore I’m very much hoping that whenever the new president takes over, hopefully it will be us, we can convince him to stay.’
Messi was disillusioned with the club and its prospects after last season, which concluded with a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Font also referred to City boss Pep Guardiola’s recent comments about Messi and his belief that the star forward will stay in Catalonia for the rest of his career, whilst acknowledging that a relationship between club and player should be formed for after he hangs up his boots.
Font added that he wants to agree a relationship with Messi and Barca beyond his playing days
‘Every time [City coach] Pep Guardiola speaks about this, he says it very clearly that he believes that Messi should stay at Barca and that he’s a Barca one-club man,’ Font added. ‘He wishes that he finishes his career at FC Barcelona.’
‘We need to ensure he understands there is a project, a winning – a competitive project. For us, the association between Barca and Messi is a very strategic association. He’s been at the club since he was 13 and we believe that this association needs to go even beyond the days that he’s on the pitch (post retirement).
‘We believe that this association has a lot of potential for the years to come and we are hopeful that if we present this to him and his team he will see this as a good opportunity.’
Sportsmail revealed yesterday that City devised a 10-year strategy to maximise the benefit of landing Messi from Barcelona.
Pep Guardiola continues to be linked with a reunion with Messi at Manchester City in 2021
Messi was scuppered in his attempts to secure a move to the Etihad Stadium over the summer after failing to argue that a release clause in his Nou Camp contract had not expired.
City remain interested in signing the Argentine superstar next year and Sportsmail has learned of plans to discuss a decade-long association with City Football Group (CFG), starting with a multi-year contract to play for Pep Guardiola who committed his next two seasons to City last week.
Meanwhile, Messi has not been included in Barca’s squad for their Champions League contest against Dynamo Kiev this evening, with manager Ronald Koeman explaining his star man ‘needs to rest.’