Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of Barcelona, admitted in an interview with the AP agency that the Catalan club is preparing for the post-Messi era, although he clarified that his wish is for that to happen in a long time.
In addition, he insisted with his desire to offer the Rosario an indefinite contract to remain in the Catalan entity after his retirement.
"We are preparing the post-Leo Messi era," said Bartomeu, who also stressed that in the next "two or three seasons," La Pulga "will remain the leader" of the team.
"I have no doubt that after Messi ends his career as a footballer he will remain linked to this club for the rest of his life"Bartomeu said.
President Cule compared Messi with Pele, who stressed that he was "a man of only one club" (Santos). "Leo Messi's contract ends in 2021, but it will surely be the will of all parties involved, if he feels strong and ambitious, extend this contract indefinitely," Bartomeu said.
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Anyway, the irruption of young soccer players like Ansu Fati, Ricky Puig or Carles Alena is an indication of the next Barcelona; a Barcelona without Messi.
"It is true that there are other young players who are arriving. Footballers coming from abroad, but also from our academy (La Masia). And we are very happy to prepare for this post-Messi era. "
In another section of the interview, Bartomeu took the opportunity to support Ernesto Valverde, the coach of Barcelona, amid questions about his continuity due to the poor performance of the team.
(Also read: And the punishment is over: Messi returns to the Argentine national team)
"This season we have brought young players. We believe that Valverde is the ideal coach to lead this combination of a generation of players of a certain age that have been so successful, with that of those who are just arriving. It is important to create this bond, this union, to make a new team that will throw Barcelona forward. Valverde has the ability to do it, "Bartomeu concluded.
THE NATION – ARGENTINA (GDA)