Rivaldo believes this season will be Lionel Messi’s last with Barcelona amid ongoing links to Manchester City.
Messi’s future remains an important topic at Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.
The superstar Barca captain was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.
Former Barca star Rivaldo feels the club’s new board will be unable to convince six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi to stay beyond 2020-21.
“Barcelona had already negotiated some salary cuts [amid the coronavirus pandemic] with players and also tried to make a general cut that was declined by the squad, so, this is not new for the players,” Rivaldo, who won two LaLiga titles, the Copa del Rey and UEFA Super Cup during his time at Camp Nou, wrote in his column for Betfair.
“But it does reinforce the idea that reaching an agreement to renew Messi’s contract is going to be tough with a reduced margin to increase his salary.
“Of course, Messi will have better offers from other clubs, and was already trying to leave the club by the end of last season. I can’t see how our board will convince him to take a step back on that decision.
“In my opinion, only winning a Champions League or La Liga title this season, or watching Koeman getting the team playing beautiful football can convince Messi to reconsider his options. Unfortunately I’m afraid this will be his last season with the club.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 19, 2020
Messi returned to Barca to work under new head coach Ronald Koeman after failing to engineer a move away, but 2020-21 has been far from a vintage season for him.
The 33-year-old has scored three goals in seven LaLiga games this term, while he has six across all competitions.
Messi’s minutes per-goal-rate of 195 is only good enough for 28th among players to have featured in at least five LaLiga games this season.
Barca – eighth in LaLiga and nine points off the pace – travel to Atletico Madrid on Saturday following the international break.
Messi has scored 12 goals in 17 LaLiga appearances against Atletico under Diego Simeone, more than any other player, whilst he is also the player to have scored the most LaLiga goals against goalkeeper Jan Oblak (eight goals in 11 games).
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