Lionel Messi to Retire at Barcelona, club’s president Bartomeu insists

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Lionel Messi will retire from active football in Barcelona and this could happen in the next four years, the president of the Spanish club, Josep Maria Bartomeu said.

This statement is coming amid speculations that Italian Serie A club Inter Milan has shown interest in the services of the 33-year-old Argentina and Barcelona forward. It is also coming amid Barcelona’s interest in Inter Milan’s 22-year-old forward Lautaro Martinez who is seen as a possible replacement for aging Barcelona’s forward Luis Suarez.

Over the years, Messi is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. He has played all his life in Barcelona and has achieved everything a player would dream of achieving especially in club football.

In the last 11 years, he has been dominating the Spanish La Liga and the world of football alongside his 35-year-old career rival Cristiano Ronaldo who now plays at an Italian Serie A club Juventus.

Interestingly, there is a conspiracy theory that Inter Milan are interested in the highly decorated Barcelona legend in order to reignite the intense rivalry between him and Ronaldo which the world of football witnessed when the Portuguese icon was playing at Spanish La Liga side Real Madrid.

However, such a dream might not come true as Barcelona‘s president has insisted that he is convinced that Lionel Messi is not planning to leave the club as it is being speculated. He described the Argentine legend as a very important member of the club who has also said he plans to retire at Barcelona.

“It’s not just me that says so but Leo has always said it, that he wants to end his professional career in Barcelona,” Bartomeu told beIN Sports. “I think it’s the club of his life. It’s a man for a club and it’s the best club for him.”

Lionel Messi is for Barcelona for life

The president of Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and Lionel Messi
The president of Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and Lionel Messi

Though Bartomeu says he is certain that Barcelona would not lose their talisman to any club as far as he is still playing professional football, the fans and critics of the club might not say the same. One of the signals that show that all is not well with Lionel Messi at Barcelona is the delay in renewing his current contract with the club which would expire in June 2021. But the club’s president wants everyone to believe that everything is under control.

“I am certain that it [contract extension] will happen,” Bartomeu said. “I have no doubt that Leo Messi in three, four, many years to come will retire at Barcelona.

“He arrived at the club when he was young, he grew up here, he feels the colors. He is a very important part of our history. He is the best player in history and he is in Barcelona. It is very clear to him that this is his all-time club.”

On the other hand, the just concluded 2019-2020 Spanish La Liga season has been one of Messi’s personal best as he ended it with 25 goals and 22 assists but yet, the performance only helped the club to finish second behind their bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Though he won the league golden boot for the 7th time in his career and the 4th time in a row, this season could be his worst since he joined Barcelona senior team in 2004 If he fails to end it with a major title. As it stands, the only major title that is left for him to win is the Champions League.

Barcelona will host Italian Serie A side Napoli on Saturday, August 8, for the second leg of Champions League round of 16 which they are expected to win. They drew the first leg 1-1 in Naples in March.

“We have made positive self-criticism among us all and we are in a situation in which we know where the possible errors are and where we need to grow to correct them,” Bartomeu said. “We are ready and with renewed enthusiasm.”

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