Barcelona presidential hopeful Xavi Vilajoana says Lionel Messi must want to stay at the club in order to sign a new contract, not be talked into prolonging his association with the Liga giants.
Uncertainty continues to reign in Catalunya when it comes to the future of a six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Having seen the exits at Camp Nou blocked off over the summer, Messi is yet to reveal what his plans are for 2021.
As things stand, with his current deal running down, he will be free to speak with interested parties from January and will drop into the free agent pool at the end of the season.
Barca are understandably eager to avoid seeing a talismanic presence walk away for nothing, but are running out of time in order to get fresh terms in place.
The likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are waiting in the wings ready to pounce, but Vilajoana admits that only the 32-year-old Argentine can decide what his next move will be.
A man hoping to take control of the boardroom at Camp Nou told reporters when asked about Messi’s ongoing presence: “He needs to be asked whether he wants to play at the best club in the world or not. Players, sporting-wise, reach a point in their career where their role changes. It's not just him.
“When you get older, you need to make the difference in the big games. There are a lot of roles. You need to integrate young players who join into the squad. You need to be a leader and the captain of the club.
“On a sporting level, motivation is vital, especially in you are captain. Motivation comes in to play when you get knocked down. We're seeing right now that when they concede a goal, they don't mount a comeback and this is a symptom of a lack of motivation. It doesn't help either that there are no fans, because they give you energy.
“This is why we need to ask him if he wants to play for the best club in the world. It's not just about convincing him, though - he has to want to do it. That desire comes from the player, and if you compliment that with arguments that help him to make a decision, then even better. The first one who should speak is him, Leo Messi.”
Messi has not been at his sparkling best this season, with Barcelona lacking inspiration as a collective.
Inconsistency has piled pressure on Ronald Koeman, in his first season at the Blaugrana helm, but Vilajoana insists there are no plans to part with the Dutchman any time soon.
He added: “We shouldn't be talking about coaches halfway through a season.
“It's at the end of the year when we should be making judgements. The team will grow when it starts to gain more confidence. Koeman trusts his system and we need to trust in it as well.”