Lionel Messi “deserves happiness” whether he decides to leave Barcelona or not, says Thierry Henry, with the Argentine icon considered to be the reason “we pay to watch football”.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner pushed towards the exits at Camp Nou on the back of a frustrating end to the 2019-20 campaign in Catalunya.
He was eventually talked into staying put, with the 33-year-old revealing to Goal that he will be honouring the final year of his contract.
It remains to be seen whether he will be sticking around beyond the summer of 2021, with the South American free to speak with potential suitors from January as things stand, and reports of interest from the likes of Manchester City and Inter refuse to go away.
Henry says Messi should be allowed to dictate his own future, given all that he has achieved in the game, with an all-time great looking to combine enjoyment with success in the latter stages of his remarkable career.
“When I see people having a go at Messi, I laugh,” Henry, who spent three years alongside Messi at Camp Nou between 2007 and 2010, told CBS Sport.
“People forget that last month he went to play in Ecuador and then he went to play in Bolivia. You can’t even walk in Bolivia! Players coming from Europe, you’ll pass out.
“People forget that we’re not machines. I understand that you need to sell stuff and you need to tell stories, but not this guy. Seriously. I played with Messi, this is not the guy you need to attack.”
Henry added on the big decisions Messi faces when it comes to either extending his association with Barca or seeking out a new challenge: “Where should Messi end up if he’s not happy? I don’t care. Messi deserves happiness. The amount of joy he has given to people.
“We pay to watch football because of Messi. Messi deserves to be happy. I just hope he keeps playing so my eyes can be looking at something beautiful as he warms my heart with beautiful football.”
Messi is now up to 740 appearances for Barcelona, with 638 goals recorded across those outings while collecting 34 pieces of silverware – including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.