Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona and his relationship with the club will last “forever”, according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Messi, 31, is enjoying another fine season with the Catalan giants, having scored 21 goals in as many La Liga games this season, with Barca six points clear at the summit.
The Argentine star has just over two years left on his Barca contract and will be 34 when it expires.
Messi has previously stated his desire to play in his native Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys before he finishes his career.
But Bartomeu does not want to see Messi leave the club, confident a new contract will be agreed to keep him at Camp Nou for the remainder of his career.
“Leo Messi will continue with us,” Bartomeu told RKB.
“He is a club player and the relationship will continue forever.
“He has told us that he wants to continue. We have offered him a new contract over five years and I hope we will continue discussing the deal.”
While keen to keep Messi at Camp Nou for as long as possible, Bartomeu has acknowledged that Barca must begin to prepare for an inevitable departure at some stage.
He told Radio 5 Live: “I know one day Lionel will say he’s retiring.
“We have to prepare the club for the future.
“We are bringing great young players to the team because we need to continue this era of success. That’s our responsibility.”
Bartomeu added during his discussion with RKB that he expects Ernesto Valverde to remain at the club for the foreseeable future, adamant he will stay even if they win no trophies this season.
“I believe he will stay,” he added. “He trusts his players and it is only his second season in charge.
“The goal is to finish the season strong and win everything. I trust him to lead the team and even if we do not win anything, he will continue to coach the team.”
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