Barcelona will have to do without Lionel Messi for their final game of 2016 but club president Josep Maria Bartomeu is confident the Argentine’s short-term absence will not end up becoming a permanent one.
There has been speculation that Messi – who has been rested for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey second leg with Hercules – could be about to end his record-breaking stay at the Nou Camp, with his current contract expiring in 2018.
However, Barca are determined to tie the 29-year-old down to a new deal and Bartomeu believes the club’s all-time leading goalscorer will finish his playing days at the Catalan giants.
Bartomeu said on Tuesday:
“We’d like him to finish his career here. Messi wants to continue because he’s happy, it’s his club.
“Messi loves this club. He’s another Catalan. I’m sure he’ll retire here. The names Messi and Barca go hand in hand.
“Messi is the best player in history, we’d like him to finish his career here and we’ll work hard to make sure of that.”
Bartomeu also believes that Messi should win the Ballon d’Or award every year, after he was beaten to the prize by Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The Ballon d’Or should be Messi’s every year as he is the best player in the history of football,” said Bartomeu.
“There are other good players but Messi is undoubtedly No 1.”