Barcelona, Spain, Aug 26 (efe-epa).- Barcelona’s recently-appointed sporting director Ramon Planes on Wednesday said the club’s project for the coming season was centered around Lionel Messi staying put.
“We’re not contemplating Leo’s exit,” Planes said the day after the player informed the club that he wanted to leave by triggering a unilateral clause in his contract.
“Our idea is to keep working to build a winning team around the best player in the world, one of the best in history,” Planes added during the unveiling of new Barcelona player Francisco Trincao.
“Leo has to be given enormous respect. He has given a lot to Barça. Barça and him is a union that has given us a lot and has brought a lot of joy to the fans,” he said, adding that the board of directors was unanimous on wanting the Argentine superstar to stay.
Messi, 33, has spent his entire career at Barcelona, scoring 634 goals in that time.
His announcement that he would leave the club could trigger a legal battle with Barcelona amid disagreements over the expiration date of the contractual clause that allows the number 10 to leave on a free so long as he informs the board of directors.
Messi’s legal team will likely argue that the expiration for the annual mechanism was extended this year due to the interruption in normal football proceedings by the coronavirus.
Technically, Messi has a year left on his contract with a buyout clause of around 700 million euros.
“Anyone who knows a little bit about football would want Leo in their team,” Planes continued.
“I’m confident that our future is positive. Barcelona has rebuilt itself many times in recent years and has always come out stronger.”