By 90Min
March 13, 2019

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has revealed the club's long-term plan to prepare themselves for the retirement of superstar Lionel Messi, adding that the signings of Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong were made with the future in mind.

Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in the world but, at 31 years old, he is likely approaching the latter stages of his career. He has been an integral part of Barcelona's success in recent years, and many have questioned whether the club will be able to adjust to life without the Argentine.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Bartomeu insisted that the club have been preparing for his unavoidable retirement for years.

He said: "I know that one day Messi will stop playing, I hope it will be four or five years from now, but we have to prepare the club for the future.

"That is why we have been bringing young talent to Barcelona - Dembele, [Philippe] Coutinho and Frenkie de Jong. We have to continue this period of excellency and success.

LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

"Being president of Barcelona really is an honour. One of the best parts of Barca is when you help young players from our youth academy, or when we go visit other players to bring them to Barcelona.

"Recently, in the case of Frenkie de Jong, when I thought that there was a possibility that Frenkie would not move to Barcelona, I decided to take a plane and talk with him and with his family, to try and explain to them the things that Barcelona can offer them.

"For him, in the next 12 or 14 years of his life, he will be at our club, in our city, and that is a decision that players must take when they join our club. They will change their life forever.

"My mandate ends in two seasons and I want to prepare the club for the future, to leave the club with many more followers, much more income and many more projects, so that the team remains a competitive team."

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