- Maria Bartomeu is hoping that Lionel Messi plays for more years at Barcelona
- Lionel Messi has spent his entire career at Barcelona and his current deal at the Nou Camp runs until 2021
- Barca chiefs are seeking a new deal for Messi until 2022
Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona president, is praying Lionel Messi remain fit for more seasons ahead.
Messi is one of the greatest football players the world have seen in recent time, but at 31, age is no longer on his side.
The Argentinian star will be looking forward to claim his fifth Champions League titles before taking a bow from the game.
Messi is expected to lead Barcelona out tonight as they battle Lyon in the reverse fixture of their last-16 Champions League contest at Nou Camp
And Bartomeu is keen to bring in quality replacement before Messi retires.
“We have the best player in the world, in the history of football,” Bartomeu was quoted by UK Express citing BBC Sport.
“I know that one day Leo will say ‘I stop playing football’.
“I hope that it’s going to be in a far few years but we have to prepare the club for the future.
“And that is why we are bringing young talent to Barcelona - Dembele, Coutinho, Frenkie de Jong.
“We have to continue this period of success and excellency.”
Messi’s present deal at Barcelona runs out in 2021 with reports claiming that club chiefs are eager to hand Messi an extended contract.
Respected Spanish news channel Mundo Deportivo claim Barcelona have commenced talks with Messi concerning his future at the club.
The Nou Camp dwellers are seeking a new deal until 2022 but ideally would prefer he pens a contract that will last to 2023.
Messi suffered a broken arm and could not play active role for Barcelona during the period.
But the pair of Bartomeu and club boss Ernesto Valverde insist Barcelona have enough quality players in their fold to take care of such situation going forward.
“Of course he's a major loss.
"We know what he does for us and what our opponents think just by seeing him on the pitch.
“We have the players to cover for him.”
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has aimed a dig at Lionel Messi before their Champions League first leg clash against Barcelona at Groupama Stadium last Tuesday night.
The 70-year-old football administrator claims the Argentine does not always get motivated against his side.
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