Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font believes that Lionel Messi needs to finish his playing career at Camp Nou before taking on a behind-the-scenes role in Catalonia.
The talismanic Argentine came close to ending his association with La Blaugrana over the summer after handing in a transfer request, but Messi remained at Barca, who have since seen Josep Maria Bartomeu resign as president.
Despite the controversial 57-year-old’s departure, Messi is yet to pen an extension on his current contract which runs until 2021, and talk of a transfer to Manchester City has surfaced once more.
However, Font – reportedly the favourite to become Barca’s new president – believes that Messi still has a role to play on and off the pitch in Catalonia, with the 48-year-old quoted as saying by Sky Sports News: “When you are lucky enough to have the best player in the world in your team, you need to retain that talent.
“If Messi goes to a competitor we will not find an alternative easily as there is no alternative to Messi. So that’s why retaining him in the short term is critical.
“But for us the association between Messi and Barca is a strategic relationship and we want to make sure we create the right conditions for Messi to play a role in the club even after he retires. Messi could contribute plenty of ideas.
“The good thing with Messi is he loves the club – as we all do – and I’m sure he is ready to take a long-term perspective and make a contribution so the club can manage the short term in the best possible way.
“When you have someone like Messi who loves the club and who the club wants to retain for many years, you have the framework to regenerate and build a winning team.”
While Messi’s future remains shrouded in uncertainty, La Liga president Javier Tebas has insisted that the Spanish top flight would cope with the loss of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.