Lionel Messi must be convinced that Barcelona remain the right club for him, according to former team-mate Deco.
Messi’s future has been the subject of fresh speculation since last week’s humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich.
Reports in Catalonia suggest the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is still lukewarm over the prospect of remaining at Camp Nou following a meeting with newly installed head coach Ronald Koeman.
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Koeman succeeded the ill-fated Quique Setien, and Eric Abidal has also moved on from his post as sporting director.
Speaking to Mundo Deportivo, ex-Barca, Porto and Chelsea playmaker Deco urged Barca to get their house in order or face up to an unpalatable reality.
“I don’t know [if Messi will leave], but he has a contract,” he said. “He is a player who wants to keep winning and it will depend on what Barca does when it comes to offering him a competitive team. I haven’t spoken to him, but I’m sure that’s what he thinks.
“I think he has to think about his future at a sporting level. It is very difficult to make a decision because we are talking about the club of his life; it is not that he has been at Barca for three or four years.
“We are talking about the best player in the history of the club and his family is linked to the city. It’s not easy, but it is also clear that he wants to keep winning. We cannot imagine a Barca without Leo, but it can happen.”
35 – Lionel Messi has scored against 35 different clubs in the Champions League; two more than the next best Cristiano Ronaldo. Collection pic.twitter.com/7CGCmN71YX
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 8, 2020
Whatever Messi decides upon for his next move, Deco does at least feel the under-fire Barcelona board have happened upon a safe pair of hands in Koeman.
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“He is a coach who knows the club very well and has a lot of experience,” he added. “He knows the whole Barca environment and I think he can help Barca at this time.”
Another former Barcelona star, Ronaldo, doubts that the club will allow Messi to leave and will eventually be able to win him around from any doubts.
“It is very unlikely that Messi will leave Barcelona, especially with the financial crisis in Europe,” he said. “Messi is the reference of the team and if I was Barcelona I would not let him leave in any case.”
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