Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says that Lionel Messi could extend his contract “indefinitely” despite planning for life after the Argentine.
The club chief admitted over the summer that new high-profile attacking signings were being made with a post-Messi era in mind, with the 32-year-old approaching a footballer’s traditional retirement age.
However, Bartomeu is in no doubt that Messi will be with the club for another five years.
“Surely it will be the wish of all parties, if he (Lionel Messi) feels strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely,” Josep Maria Bartomeu said.
“Ultimately it is he who must decide. He has earned the right to decide when he will stop playing football. But like he said a few weeks ago, he wants to finish his playing career at Barcelona.
“Over the next two or three seasons our leader will continue to be Leo Messi. There’s no doubt that he is still young, still strong. He is still ambitious.
“So Leo Messi will still play with us for the next two, three, four or five years. I have no doubts about that.”
Furthermore, Bartomeu believes that Messi will be inextricably linked with Barcelona for the rest of his life, long after he hangs up his boots.
“I have no doubt that after Messi finishes his career as a footballer he will remain linked to this club for the rest of his life,” Bartomeu added.
“Firstly because he is the best player in the history of football and this is where he played. I doubt that anybody else will be able to match his achievements or his records.
“Or his talent, leadership and the supremacy he has in the world of football. So he will continue to be linked to Barca for life. Without a doubt.”
Messi netted a hat-trick for Barca as they recorded a much-needed 4-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday.