Barcelona presidential candidate Toni Freixa remains “convinced” that Lionel Messi wants to remain at the club, but admits that discussions need to be held as soon as possible.
The Liga giants faced the very real threat of seeing their talismanic figure walk away from Camp Nou over the summer.
With Messi growing disillusioned with life on and off the field in Catalunya, the mercurial Argentine made a push for the exits. He was quickly informed that a break clause in his contract had expired, meaning that he was tied to terms through to the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
Messi exclusively revealed to Goal that he will be honouring that agreement, but uncertainty continues to reign when it comes to his long-term future. With Barca putting no extension in place, their inspirational captain is free to speak with his many suitors from January.
Manchester City are said to retain interest in a player that has enjoyed considerable success working under Blues boss Pep Guardiola in the past.
Freixa, however, believes Messi can be talked into extending his career-long association with Barca.
He wants to be the one to make that dream a reality, ahead of elections on January 24, and will make meetings with a six-time Ballon d’Or one of his top priorities if he does take control of the boardroom vacated by Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Freixa told Cadena SER: “Messi has been everything and has to continue; my will is for him to continue, but one day he will have to leave. The day it happens, hopefully it will be never, but it is not a question of taking away my sleep.”
He added: “The Messi case is one of the important issues. The situation must be analysed and a series of decisions must be taken.
“To sit down and talk to Messi, you have to look him in the eye and see what everyone wants and what the club can offer. You have to ask him if he really wants to continue, which I'm convinced he does.”
Messi has not been at his sparkling best so far this season, but he has still contributed six goals and four assists to the Barca cause now being overseen by Dutch manager Ronald Koeman.