Barcelona name Dembele, Arthur, De Jong and 3 others as Messi's replacement

Barcelona name Dembele, Arthur, De Jong and 3 others as Messi's replacement

- Barcelona are preparing for the post-Messi era despite handed their captain a new contract

- The Argentine international will clock 32 in the coming months as he edges closer to retirement

- Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu has shortlisted five players to fit into Messi's shoes

Barcelona are set to hand their most priced possession Lionel Messi a contract extension but are preparing for life after their talisman.

The Argentine international will turn 32 in June and Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu said they are preparing to make provision for another superstar when he is no longer available.

Bartomeu insists Barca are in a strong position to move into another era without Messi despite the challenges that may occur when he retires.

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The Camp Nou president has pin-pointed five players that will lead the way in the post-Messi era including - Ousmane Dembele, Clement Lenglet, Arthur Melo, Frenkie De Jong and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Bartomeu told ESPN FC : "Maybe in three, four or five years, Leo Messi will say: 'OK, I am going to stop playing football.'

"So we are preparing our club for the future, for the time post-Leo. Because we would like to still be the top club at that time. So, it's a way of working, of investing, also of taking risks.

"We invest in young players, on homegrown players from La Masia, but also on bringing players from other clubs, just to keep this level of excellence.

"Sometimes I explain to members of the club and the board, what we are doing is bringing right now very young players to the club.

"Young players that we think are very talented: [Clement] Lenglet, Ousmane Dembele, Arthur Melo, Frenkie de Jong, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is still very young.

"There a lot of players that will continue playing after the Messi era."

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German shot-stopper Ter Stegen is already an established member of Ernesto Valverde's squad while Dembele, Arthur and Lenglet have demonstrated significant progress this season.

Ajax wonderkid De Jong will arrive in the summer and is being tipped to be a perfect replacement for aging Ivan Rakitic at the Nou Camp.

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Meanwhile, had earlier reported that Lionel Messi's recent free-kick heroics has been saluted by football fans around the world as the Argentina international is now on the verge of winning the 2018/19 Spanish La Liga title.

Messi's free-kick against Villareal was his third in three games and seventh of the season which makes him the only player to score more than 6 free-kicks in consecutive seasons in the La Liga. ( -> We have updated to serve you better.

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