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BARCELONA

Messi: Barcelona to offer club captain lifetime contract

"Messi will remain a part of Barcelona for his whole life," said Camp Nou president Josep Maria Bartomeu when discussing a new deal for the Argentinean.

Messi: Barcelona to offer club captain lifetime contract

Barcelona captain Leo Messi will be offered a lifetime contract at Camp Nou to keep him at the club for the rest of his playing career, according to Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

“Over the next two or three seasons our leader will continue to be Messi,” Bartomeu said during an interview with Associated Press. “However, there will be other young players coming in. Some will come from abroad, some will come from La Masia. We are content because we are preparing for the post-Messi era.”

Bartomeu went on to say that Messi, who has a clause in his contract giving him free rein to leave whenever he desires, would finish his playing career at Barcelona. “There are always comparisons with Pelé and Pelé was a one-club man. I have no doubt that when Messi finishes his career as a player, he will continue to be a part of this club for the rest of his life,” Bartomeu said.

Messi’s current contract expires in 2021 and talks have begun on a possible extension for the 32-year-old, although he himself has stated he does not want to be tied down to a lifetime deal. Messi has made no secret of his desire to play for his boyhood club, Newell’s, again before he hangs up his boots but Bartomeu expressed his confidence that the Argentina captain will sign up for a longer stay at Camp Nou when the time comes: “I am sure that all of the parties involved will be willing to extend his contract indefinitely.”

Iniesta, Messi, Xavi lined up for Camp Nou coaching roles

The lifetime contract is largely an honorary affair, as Andrés Iniesta proved when he joined Vissel Kobe a few months after penning an indefinite deal at Camp Nou in October 2017. It is more a guarantee that a player will always be welcome to return in some capacity and it is not inconceivable that in 10 years’ time Barça’s coaching staff could include Messi, Iniesta and current Al-Sadd boss Xavi.

Speaking his current manager, who has been under the spotlight in recent weeks, Bartomeu told reporters that Ernesto Valverde remains the man to lead the club forward.

“This season we have brought in young players who will help us to move between these different stages. We believe that Valverde is the ideal coach to lead this combination of a generation of players of a certain age who have been very successful and a group of promising younger players.”