Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has insisted in an interview with The Associated Press that the club are preparing for life without Lionel Messi.
“We are preparing this post-Messi era,” he told the journalist John Wilson, before adding that “in the next coming two or three seasons our leader will continue to be Leo Messi.
"But it’s true that there are other young players who are coming. Players coming from abroad, but also players coming from our La Masia (academy). And we are very happy because we are preparing this post-Messi era.”
Messi's contract with Barcelona runs until 2021 -- and there's even a get-out clause next summer -- but Bartomeu has no doubts that the Argentine will be with the club longer than that.
“Leo Messi’s contract finishes in 2021," he said. "But surely it will be the will of all parties involved, if he feels strong and with ambition, to extend this contract indefinitely.
“I always make a comparison with Pele. Pele was a man of a single club (in Brazil) ... I have no doubts that after Messi finishes his career as footballer he will remain linked to this club for the rest of his life.”