Messi's contract runs through 2021, but Barcelona has eyes on an even longer partnership with the all-time great.

By 90Min
April 05, 2019

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has revealed that he wants to keep Camp Nou superstar Lionel Messi at the club 'forever', even in retirement, and will soon open new contract talks with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Messi is currently contracted until the summer of 2021, at which point he would have just celebrated his 34th birthday. But Bartomeu believes that Barcelona's most famous adopted son still has 'many years' left, while his ties to the Catalans will continue beyond playing.

"We want him to have a really long career so we can keep on enjoying him. Lionel's managed to break down borders. Everyone admires him and he's applauded at other stadiums by rival fans," Bartomeu told ESPN, referring to a recent ovation from Real Betis supporters.

"We would like to renew his contract, that's the idea," the president added.

"He is young - you can see that [in his performances] - and he still has two years on his deal. He's always improving, always innovating. I believe he still has many years in front of him and in the coming months we will sit down with him so that he has many more years at Barcelona."

Barça handed Andres Iniesta a 'contract for life' in 2017 that could yet see the club legend return to Camp Nou after his playing days in Japan are over, with Barça often employing former players - Txiki Begiristain, Andoni Zubizarreta, Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal - as club officials.

Current star Gerard Pique is even tipped to lead the club as president one day.

As such, Bartomeu refuses to believe that Messi's time at Camp Nou will finish when he hangs up his boots and that the association will continue to thrive beyond that.

"Messi is a one-club man. It's more than what he does on the pitch - his relationship with Barça will last forever. I use the example of Pele, who was always at Santos. We want Messi to always be at Barça, whether that's playing or linked to the club [when he's retired]," Bartomeu said.

Whether Messi will spend his entire playing career at Camp Nou remains to be seen. While he confirmed last year he would never sign for another European club, the Rosario-native spoke of a desire to reunite with boyhood club Newell's Old Boys.

Messi was just 13 years of age when he left Newell's to join Barça and therefore never had the chance to represent the club at first team level or play professionally in Argentina.

"I always said I wanted to play in Argentine football one day, I don't know if it will happen but I have it in my mind. It would be at Newell's, nowhere else. I would like to do that for at least six months, but you never know what will happen," he explained last May.

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