Luis Enrique believes it would be the “perfect story” if Lionel Messi ended his career at Barcelona.
There have been fresh reports this week suggesting Messi was not interested at this juncture in extending his current contract at Camp Nou which is due to expire in 2018.
Barca are thought to be calm about their star forward’s future and Luis Enrique thinks it would be fitting for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to see out his playing days at the Spanish champions.
He told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s home game with Malaga: “I think he will be here for many years.
“A player who left his country when he was young, for him to finish his career as the number one player in history at the club where he started – it would be the perfect story.
“I would like that [to happen] but that is his thing.”
Asked if he could influence Messi’s decision, Luis Enrique added: “That’s something between the club and the player and they are the ones that should talk about it.
“I can give them information as we know having Messi on the team brings certain guarantees.
“It’s a story that needs a happy ending but that question is for other people to answer.”
Messi, along with the other two parts of the famed MSN trident, Luis Suarez and Neymar, has been away on international duty in South America for the past fortnight but the Barcelona boss is confident all returning players are fit and raring to go.
“The schedule determines that this is what happens this week,” he said. “If anyone is used to these type of trips it’s the South Americans.”
Suarez will miss the Malaga game through suspension after being shown a fifth yellow card of the season in the win at Sevilla last time out with Paco Alcacer being handed the chance to impress in the Uruguayan’s absence.
Alcacer joined Barca in August from Valencia for an initial €30million but has yet to score in seven appearances.
“It’s a big opportunity for him,” said Luis Enrique. “Forwards need minutes and it’s good for Paco. I think he’s going to play well. He’s a starter tomorrow but his main objective is not to score goals but to help the team win.
“The result is what’s important, not just for him but all his team-mates.”
Barca could move top of LaLiga with a win ahead of the Madrid derby later on Saturday, a match Luis Enrique says he may, or may not watch.
“If we win, I’ll watch it,” he said. “As far as the result I hope both teams lose. I know that’s not possible.”
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