Kolkata, July 13 (IANS) Former Barcelona midfielder Luis Garcia is hopeful that Lionel Messi will stay on at the Catalan club for many more years.
The 33-year-old is currently contracted until the end of next season with Barcelona holding talks with the ace Argentina forward about an extension.
There is speculation that record six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is unhappy with the club’s leadership.
“I would love to see Messi in LaLiga and Barcelona of course. Even though sometimes people think they struggle, that’s part of the game. I hope he stays,” Garcia, who played for Barcelona in the 2003-2004 season, said during a video conference facilitated by LaLia, answering a query by IANS.
“His home. All the supporters love him not only in Barcelona but around the world. All enjoy watching him play, so hopefully he can stay many years,” added the 42-year old who has also played for Atletico Madrid and Liverpool among other clubs and is a LaLiga ambassador.
Barcelona are currently one point adrift of league leaders Real Madrid but the latter have a game in hand and can go four points clear with two games remaining for the competition to end.
Asked if the team is in transition, Garcia said: “When I signed for Barcelona in 2003, they were in transition and they stayed four-five years without a trophy. Two years later, they won everything. So it could be a moment of transition…if you look at the squad of Barcelona they are looking at a new generation with Riqui Puig, Ansu Fati…players who are adding so much quality.
“They are bringing youth to the team. So it could be a transition, but in this year if they win LaLiga or Champions League it won’t be a transition. We can talk about that the day they stop winning trophies.”
Meanwhile, Frederic Kanoute, who was also attending the video conference, said Messi has adjusted his game according to his age and thinks one step ahead of everyone, which is why he is one of the best in the business.
“Messi for now is still here. We should not say he is too old or whatever. What he is doing week in and week out is amazing. He will have to adjust a little bit his game and he has already done so. He is thinking a step ahead of everybody. He is very decisive in all games we have played. We will still enjoy Messi for a few years.”
On LaLiga post Messi with his rival Cristiano Ronaldo already leaving Real Madrid for Juventus two seasons back, Kanoute who has played for Sevilla, said “LaLiga is bigger than any particular player.
“We will see many young players coming in. I don’t know if Neymar will come back but we will see some top player playing. It will be difficult to replace someone like Messi. What we witnessed was historical. This competition between Ronaldo and Messi.
“We don’t know if we’re gonna live exactly the same thing in the future. But we will see a lot of big talents express themselves in LaLiga.”