‘Messi’s reputation would be damaged if he left Barcelona’ – La Liga chief Tebas urges Argentine to stay

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Lionel Messi Barcelona
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The six-time Ballon d’Or winner pushed for the exits at Camp Nou over the summer, but has been talked into honouring his contract

Lionel Messi’s reputation would be “very damaged” if he were to leave Barcelona, claims La Liga president Javier Tebas.

The Argentine forward did push for the exits at Camp Nou over the summer.

Having become disillusioned with life in Catalunya on the back of a disappointing end to the 2019-20 campaign, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner felt the time was right to take on a new challenge.

He was of the opinion that an exit clause in his contract would allow him to head elsewhere, but Barca had other ideas.

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Messi was eventually talked into shelving his exit plans, with the 33-year-old revealing to Goal that he will be honouring the final year of his contract.

A move could, however, be made in 2021, with the absence of fresh terms meaning that pre-contract terms can be discussed with potential suitors from January.

Manchester City are among those said to still be monitoring Messi’s situation, with the Premier League heavyweights boasting the funds required to put a deal in place.

Tebas, though, believes that an iconic figure of the modern era should be looking to extend his career-long association with Barca and avoid taking any risks that could tarnish his image.

The Liga chief told AFP: “We've been lucky to enjoy him for so many years but Messi should think very carefully about what he does next.

“If Messi left Barcelona, that reputation he has now and that has worked so well for him would be very damaged.

“It's true he could get a better offer financially but the reputation he has after more than 20 years, I think he has to hold onto that.”

While eager to see Messi stay put, Tebas is confident that La Liga could cope with the departure of another global superstar – with Real Madrid and Barcelona having already allowed a couple of elite performers to slip through their net.

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“It wouldn't be a drama. Cristiano Ronaldo left, Neymar left,” said Tebas.

“Neymar went to PSG and I haven't seen the French league reaching a super level because of him.

“That's the reality. People who think the players are the ones who define a competition are wrong and I'm glad they think that way because they won't grow.”

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