Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has professed his hope that Lionel Messi can be persuaded to pen a new deal to keep him at Camp Nou for the foreseeable future.
The Blaugrana skipper could be heading to new pastures at the conclusion of the current campaign following a protracted, public fight over his future leading into the 2020-21 season.
Though the Argentine is committed for the rest of the term following his thwarted attempts to seal an early release, many expect the striker to be straight out of the door once his deal is up, with a potential Pep Guardiola reunion at Manchester City one mooted option.
But Ter Stegen - who recently signed a new long-term deal to keep him at the Catalan outfit through 2025, cementing more than a decade of service in La Liga - remains keen for his captain to turn around and reaffirm himself to the European heavyweights.
"It's always an advantage to have Messi on the team because he can score goals out of nowhere - that's what makes him so special," the 28-year-old stated in an interview with BarcaTV.
"I hope he continues here and can be happy. You have to give him the opportunity to be above things because he's an extremely important part of our game."
Messi's acrimonious relationship with the upper echelons of Barcelona's club structure has spilled over in recent months, on the back of a 2019-20 campaign that saw the Blaugrana fail to win a trophy.
New manager Ronald Koeman is yet to instill confidence, with the team eighth in La Liga as they return to work following the international break, while accusations from associates of other players have pointed to Messi as the root of some major cultural problems within the club, claims to which the 33-year-old has vehemently responded.
Elsewhere, Ter Stegen also offered praise for defensive partner Gerard Pique, who has served as a stalwart centre-back in front of the shot-stopper since his arrival from Borussia Monchengladbach.
"He has a special personality and is very funny," the goalkeeper said of Pique. "He understands my humour, which not many people do. We often talk to each other and always try to be the best for each other to give to others."