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The Argentine forward has admitted that he has heard great things about the Athletic coach and has also been suitably impressed by the impact he has made since arriving in La Liga

Lionel Messi has revealed that he hopes Pep Guardiola remains as Barcelona coach for years to come but hinted that should the Catalan trainer elect to move on at the end of the season, Athletic Bilbao boss Marcelo Bielsa would make a fine replacement.

Guardiola is out of contract in the summer and has yet to decide whether he will sign an extension to remain at Camp Nou.

Messi, like all of his team-mates, is hoping that the man who has led Barca to 13 titles over the past four seasons will eventually decide to commit his future to the club.

"I do not know what he is thinking," the forward told La Red. "We are awaiting the decision he will take.

"But I hope he stays much longer. It would be best for us. It's a situation he has to think about, though, and every year, he has done the same."

However, should Guardiola decide to part company with the reigning world, European and Spanish champions, Messi suggested that Bielsa - who has led Athletic to the final of the Copa del Rey and also propelled the Basques into contention for a place in next season's Champions League - would prove a worthy successor.

"It is wonderful that things are going so well for Bielsa," the Argentina international said of his compatriot.

"I have always said that he is a coach that I like. Many say that he is very similar to Guardiola."

In terms of his own future, Messi that he would like to finish his career at Camp Nou.

"My intention is to stay always at the club," he said. "I'm here a long time. It's my home. I have no intention of leaving.

"
If it were up to me I would stay my whole career at Barca."

Indeed, the three-time Ballon d'Or winner even revealed that he would like to remain involved in the club even after he hangs up his boots.

"When I finish my career only God knows what I'll do, but I love to remain connected to the club I love," he admitted.

Meanwhile, Messi admitted that Barca have all to do to retain their Liga title given that they currently find themselves 10 points in arrears of leaders Real Madrid.

"Realistically, it's difficult," he conceded. "There are many points between us and, beyond that, they have demonstrated that they are very good.

"They are very strong, but we have no choice but to fight to the end."

Messi is currently preparing for his country's friendly against Switzerland on Wednesday and is suspended for Barcelona's clash with Sporting Gijon in La Liga this weekend after picking up five yellow cards this season.

Since November, Goal.com has been publishing exclusive extracts from Graham Hunter's highly-anticipated new book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'. The very last extract, which was published last Friday, looks at Andres Iniesta's risky return from injury in the 2009 Champions League Final and how he was described by Wayne Rooney as the 'best midfielder in the world'. Don't miss it!

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