Barcelona presidential candidate assesses chances of persuading Messi to stay

Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font claims he is “convinced” he can persuade Lionel Messi to stay at the club beyond the summer.

The Barca captain’s future is still up in the air after his failed attempts to leave the Nou Camp back in August.

Messi looks likely to follow through with his exit plan when his contract expires at the end of the season, but the presidential election could offer Barcelona their only chance of changing his mind.

Font is running in next month’s election and is keen to retain Messi’s services, not just as a player, but with the opportunity for a role once he’s hung up his boots.

Asked whether he believes Messi staying put is a feasible outcome, Font told ESPN : “I’m convinced that with a competitive, exciting and, especially in Messi’s case, long-term project – one that could even go beyond the day that Messi retires – we will convince him to stay.

Lionel Messi has a big decision to make on his future
Lionel Messi has a big decision to make on his future

“Messi is the best player in the history of the No. 1 sport in the world. Imagine what that means.

“For that reason, the Messi-Barca association is a strategic one and we must do everything possible to guarantee the association lives on.

“Keeping in mind he can speak with other clubs in January, phoning Messi [if I win the election] must be one of the priorities.”

Man City and PSG both continue to be linked with signing Messi in what would be the blockbuster move of the summer.

Key to Messi’s decision will be whether Barcelona can prove to him they are in a position to challenge for major honours again in the imminent future.

One of the forward’s main concerns is how far Barca have fallen behind the other top sides in Europe.

Given his advancing years, Messi (who turns 33 in June), is keen to ensure he will have a strong shot at more silverware before his career comes to an end, with particular focus on another Champions League medal.

Barca successfully navigated their path to the knockout stages of that competition with relative ease, but they currently sit ninth in La Liga.

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly hampered their prospects of investing in their squad, and Font admits Messi will also have to fall in line with new financial restrictions if he wants to carry on his time at the club.

Should Messi leave Barcelona in the summer? Have your say below.

Messi has seen his rival Cristiano Ronaldo achieve success since leaving Spain
Messi has seen his rival Cristiano Ronaldo achieve success since leaving Spain

“Messi, above all else, is a person that loves Barca and what he wants is to win,” Font added.

“Of course, the best player in the world and the best of all time has to be compensated competitively. But I think his priorities are competing and winning.

“[His salary] is one of the realities that has to be adjusted. The level of revenue in the short-term and for next season is up in the air. It depends on what happens with fans coming back to the stadium.

“Based on that, we will have to structure the wage bill appropriately. Once we are clear on that situation; we will know what the club can afford.”

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