?Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu had admitted that the club are already preparing for life without Lionel Messi.
The 32-year-old has been isn’t showing any signs of ageing and has once again been the Catalan giants marquee player this season, but he has a contract with Barcelona until 2021 and could even leave next summer thanks to a clause in his deal.
Although Barcelona aren’t at any serious risk of losing Messi this season, Bartomeu insists that the wheels have already been set in motion to prepare the club for when the Argentina international does eventually leave.
“I have no doubts that after Messi finishes his career as a footballer he will remain linked to this club for the rest of his life,” Bartomeu told The Associated Press.
Barcelona’s recent business in the transfer market shows that they’ve been preparing for Messi’s departure, as well as that of Sergio Busquets and Gerard Piqué, for a number of years, bringing youngsters like Ousmane Dembélé, Arthur and Frenkie de Jong to the club.
There has also been a lot of time spent working with Barcelona’s La Masia academy, with Ansu Fati, Carles Pérez and Carles Aleñá all being given senior minutes this season.
Even with this integration from new players for the academy, Barcelona are still finding themselves relying on Messi this season.
The 32-year-old has been directly involved in nine goals in La Liga this season which is more than any other Barcelona player, with just Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (10) and Gerard Moreno from Villarreal (10) having more across the top flight.
Messi’s goal and assist in the Champions League has also been vital in keeping Barcelona at the top of Group F, although performances from the rest of the squad have seen results catch up with the club in recent weeks.
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