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'Messi deserves to decide his own future' - Ter Stegen hopeful of Barcelona stay for Argentine star

23:18 GMT+3 12/09/2019
lionel messi - cropped
The star attacker may have hinted he could leave the club in the future, but his team-mate is remaining calm

Marc-Andre ter Stegen believes Lionel Messi is "really happy" at Camp Nou but says the Barcelona talisman has earned the right to decide his own future.

Messi, who has only played for Barca at club level since making his debut in October 2004, gave a wide-ranging interview to SPORT this week.

The Argentina international, considered one of the greatest players of all time, said he aimed to stay at Barca for "as long as possible" but acknowledged a "need to see there's a winning team".

The Catalan giants have not won the Champions League since the 2014-15 season when Neymar starred alongside Luis Suarez and Messi, who had hoped the Brazil forward would return to Barcelona.

However, Ter Stegen had no issue with Messi's apparent suggestion that he could move on from Barca if the team does not perform.

"[Messi] deserves to choose his own future," he told reporters. "The easiest thing is for us to tell him to stay because he's a key player for us and his level is so high.

"I'm convinced he's really happy in the team, at the club and in the city. It's hard for him to move.

"Personally, I want him to stay, but I don't decide. We're going to tell him to stay and we hope he does."

Messi said he did not know if Barca had done everything possible to bring Neymar back to the club from Paris Saint-Germain, but Ter Stegen is keen to move on from the failed transfer.

"It is a question that is currently difficult to answer," he said. "Neymar is a spectacular player, he spent many years with us and took another step.

"Now nothing can be changed. The club has tried what it could. We are delighted to have the best players in the squad. I'm happy with the team we have."

It was reported Ivan Rakitic could form part of a deal for Neymar as he was repeatedly linked with a move away from the La Liga champions, yet Ter Stegen is glad to have the midfielder still on board.

"It's what happens every year," he said. "In the end, the good thing is that we have people like him who give everything for the club and, personally, I think it is fantastic that he stayed because he gives us a lot of quality.

"He is one of the pillars of our team as a person and as a footballer. He has a contract for some years and we hope he stays.

"I am not the coach to decide, but I hope he plays a few more minutes - although that is the coach's decision and he will choose those he thinks can help us more."