Lionel Messi’s inevitable retirement is a worrying thought but the record-breaker deserves to determine his own fate, according to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Messi, 32, suggested the end of his career was “approaching” after winning an unprecedented sixth Ballon d’Or on Monday.
Ernesto Valverde insisted it was a natural line of thinking and nothing to be concerned about but Bartomeu told Catalunya Radio: “I worry about the day Messi goes.”
He does not expect that day to come soon and outlined plans to agree a contract extension with Messi before his own term as president ends in 2021, which coincides with the expiry of the Argentine’s deal.
“I would like to sign one more contract with Messi,” Bartomeu said.
“He has a lot left. We have talked many times and he has no problem continuing at Barca. I have no doubt that he will play here until he retires, it is a commitment from him.
“It will end when he wants because Leo, for being the best, for giving what he has given, it will be up to him to say when he stops.
“He will set the terms. He has the right to decide how and when he wants to finish. He will never leave, this is his club, the club of his life.”
The Only. One. Ever.
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Head coach Valverde is also due to become a free agent in 2021 but, unlike Messi, there looks to be a realistic chance of him leaving then or earlier.
The former Athletic Bilbao boss will hope to secure a third successive LaLiga title before decisions are made over his future.
Bartomeu said: “Valverde has a contract until the end of my term. He or Barcelona will decide. To continue with a coach depends on many variables.
“In Barcelona we have seen very short periods of coaches lately. Three [seasons] may be enough, but it is a decision that he must make.
“It depends on exhaustion, fatigue, although I see Valverde is excited, wants to do well, wants success and wants to combine these players who have won everything with the new generation.”
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