Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu believes Lionel Messi will retire at the Camp Nou a one-club player and added that the forward might not hang up his boots until the age of 45.
Messi—who turns 32 in June—scored a decisive brace against Liverpool on Wednesday to give the Blaugrana a 3-0 cushion before their UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg at Anfield on Tuesday.
The question at the Camp Nou is how long he will stick around to perform these kinds of feats, but Bartomeu told the Guardian’s Sid Lowe Messi will be at Barca until his last game, which won’t be anytime soon:
“You enjoy watching him. And you wonder what will happen when Leo retires from football.
“He might even play until he’s 45, who knows? We know he’ll play three, four, five years more, we don’t know how many – as many as he wants. We’re preparing: players like [Ousmane] Dembele, [Clement] Lenglet, Arthur are there to build a team for when Messi stops playing, but I still see it as a long way off. I don’t think that day is near. And we tell the players who play and train with him: ‘Make the most of every minute.'”
Messi played youth football for Newell’s Old Boys, his local club in Rosario, Argentina, but he and his family moved to Catalonia when he was 13. The Blaugrana are the only senior club he’s represented in his career.
Bartomeu added: “We are talking to the family but it’s very early to say. He’s a footballer. So we talk football. But he will stay here with us. He’s a club man. I talk always about Pele, who was always associated with Santos, the only place he played. Leo belongs to world football, but he has always lived at Barca. He will be a one-club man. Leo will never leave. He’ll stop playing, but he’ll always be with us.”
The forward’s second goal against the Reds was his 600th strike for the club, a long-range free-kick that’s almost sure to seal Barca a spot in this season’s Champions League final (U.S. only):
It would require one of the greatest comebacks in European football history for Jurgen Klopp to lead his Liverpool team back to the Champions League decider for a second year in succession. Barcelona, meanwhile, are chasing a treble, having already confirmed back-to-back La Liga title wins.