La Liga president Javier Tebas has asked Lionel Messi to remain at Barcelona for his entire career as his exit would be a bigger loss than that of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar joined Juventus from Real Madrid in a landmark €100m transfer two years ago to bring a longstanding rivalry in Spanish football between him and Messi, at Barcelona, to an end.
The Argentine’s contract at the Camp Nou expires in the summer of 2021 and this week Mundo Deportivo reported that he had been offered a new deal which is set to add a concrete one-year extension plus the possibility of triggering a further year.
That would take the player’s contract in Catalonia up to 30 June 2023, which will be six days after he celebrates his 36th birthday.
“Cristiano’s departure annoyed Madrid but it did not impact them because at La Liga we have spent years ensuring that our brand goes beyond the players,” Tebas explained on RAC1 on Thursday.
“But Messi is different because he is the best player ever and we are lucky to have had him in La Liga for all of his career.
“If he went to another league it would make a big difference, it would not be a catastrophe of course but he adds so much value for us.
“Messi is an icon of Spanish football and I would ask him to please finish his career here and continue giving us joy.”
Messi has a clause in his current deal at the club which would see him allowed to leave at the end of any given season should he so desire, but the deadline for exercising that this year has already passed.
There is an expectation that negotiations will be a lengthy process and there will need to be a series of details discussed over the course of next season to come to an agreement.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu together with CEO Óscar Grau will represent the club in the negotiations process and they will be dealing with Messi’s father Jorge.
It is claimed that Messi’s priority is not the length of the contract, but of retaining the clause that allows him to leave at the end of any given season should he wish to do so.
Messi, who celebrates his 33rd birthday next week, has spent the entirety of his professional career at the Camp Nou.
UEFA has confirmed plans to finalise this season’s Champions League and Europa League tournaments. Find out the details right here.