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Lionel Messi

‘Italians & Brits will only see Messi when Barcelona visit’ – Lifetime contract on offer to Argentine at Camp Nou

6:44 PM SGT 9/12/19
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2019
Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of the La Liga giants, remains confident that a six-time Ballon d’Or winner will see out his career in Catalunya

Lionel Messi will have the option to commit to a “lifetime contract” at Barcelona, says club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, with supporters in Italy and England told they will only get to see the Argentine “up close” when the Liga giants pay a visit.

Speculation regarding the future of a six-time Ballon d’Or winner has started to rage once more.

After collecting the latest Golden Ball of his stunning collection, Messi conceded that “retirement is approaching” now that he has passed his 32nd birthday.

He maintains that he still has many years left in him, but questions are being asked of when he will decide to walk away from Camp Nou.

An exit clause in his current deal means that decision could be taken at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, while there would only be a further 12 months on his agreement beyond that point.

Barca remain confident that fresh terms will be put in place, with Bartomeu hoping to see Messi follow the lead of fellow icons such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta by spending the best years of his career on the books in Catalunya.

“Before my mandate's over, I would like to give him a lifetime contract as we did with Andres Iniesta,” Bartomeu told Italian publication La Repubblica.

“He's earned the right to decide when to say that's enough.

“The only hope that Italians, Brits and fans from other countries have of seeing him up close is to wait until Barca visit.

“As a footballer, Messi is the No.1 and we will fully understand that in the years to come because Leo's not just changed Barca's history, he's changed football's history.”

Bartomeu has been eager to state his willingness to enter into contract talks with Messi on a regular basis over recent weeks.

He admits to being concerned by the retirement talk, but sees no reason why a talismanic figure would sever ties with the Blaugrana any time soon.

“I am worried about the day Messi retires,” Bartomeu told Radio Catalunya.

“I would like him to sign another contract. (His current deal) ends in 2021. He still has time ahead of him, we've spoken many times about it.

“He doesn't have any problem with continuing at Barca. I have no doubt that he will play here until he retires, that he's committed to the club.

“There are no doubts about him ending his career here and ending it when he wants. We will give him as many contracts as he wants, I hope he can sign one more with me as president.”