Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has urged Lionel Messi to finish his career at Camp Nou, claiming that the Argentine is “a player for Barcelona”.
Lionel Messi’s contract at his current club expires this June. While he did express his desire to leave at the beginning of this season, the Barca skipper eventually changed his mind and is reportedly renegotiating a new deal at the Camp Nou.
Under Guardiola, Messi bloomed into one of the game’s greatest as the duo went on to lift the historic sextuple in the 2008-09 season. The duo added two more La Liga titles and another Champions League crown (2011) before the Spanish coach left Barcelona a year later.
But the master and his apprentice still share a bond between themselves, with Messi being repeatedly linked with a move to Manchester City since Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad Stadium. So when the Barca number 10 handed in a transfer request last summer, City were considered favourites to land him. A year later, though, Messi changed his mind and has reportedly chosen to stay at his boyhood club for a few more seasons. And Guardiola himself has recommended the 33-year-old to stay “home” at Barcelona.
“I hope he can finish his career at Barca. Messi will not find a better home than at Barca. Messi’s a player for Barcelona. If you ask me my opinion I have huge gratitude for what Barcelona have done for me.
The only thing that needs to be done, as our dear teacher (Johan Cruyff) said, is to go back to the origins, to rescue the cause of things, which makes Barca special in many things in the way they play.”Guardiola said in an interview with Spanish media outlet TV3.
Messi, Barca’s all-time top scorer with 668 goals in 774 appearances, marked his stature as an all-time great in his early 20s and once again has been freakish with his goal scoring records this season. His tally of 34 goals with 14 assists in 43 overall appearances this season guided the Blaugranas to their 31st Copa Del Rey title in April and has kept them in a four-way La Liga title race. Therefore, his impending renewal at the club is much more than just a contract renewal to the fans.
Barcelona are in financial turmoil, with the club owing billions of euros in debt, of which €700 million is to be paid off in the short term. The wage to turnover ratio is very high, with the Argentine reportedly earning over €550 million through his current contract. But Joan Laporta, the recently re-elected President of the club, appeared confident when asked about Messi’s contract situation.
“Everything is progressing adequately. I will do everything within the club’s capabilities to get him to stay. That’s what we’re doing. Messi is motivated. He is an extraordinary person and I am convinced that he will want to continue at Barca.”the chairman stated.
With interests from PSG and Man City looming, Barcelona must make sure Messi not only extends his contract at the Camp Nou but remains as a mentor to the exciting young prospects at the club.
Barca head coach Ronald Koeman said:
“The decision [to stay] is in his hands. I hope that Leo continues with us. We have said it several times. For me he has to finish his career here because he has been here all his life, but it is a decision that Leo has to make. Let’s hope he stays for many years.”.