Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has called Argentine star Lionel Messi a 'genius' and believes he is 'never' leaving the Catalan club.
In an interview with the Guardian, Bartomeu said that Messi's time at the top is not coming to an end in the near future.
"He might even play until he's 45, who knows?” he said, via The Guardian. “We know he'll play three, four, five years more, we don't know how many – as many as he wants."
Bartomeu admits that Barcelona are already preparing for life without their star striker and have players in line to stand up when he hangs his boots.
"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," he said.
“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'," he added.
Bartomeu continued: "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."
He then compared Messi with the likes of Brazilian legend Pele, as the latter played all of his life for Santos.
"I talk always about Pele, who was always associated with Santos, the only place he played," said Bartomeu.
The Spanish entrepreneur said Messi belongs to the world of football, but he will 'never leave' Barcelona.
“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," he said.
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