Barcelona's President Reveals How The Club Are Preparing For Life Without Lionel Messi
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has revealed that the Spanish club are preparing for life without Lionel Messi.
Despite the fact that the 31-year-old Argentine is still going strong for his club this season, the 56-year-old Spaniard is already looking ahead to the future.
"I know one day Lionel will say he's retiring," he told BBC Radio 5 Live Football Daily.
Sure, Bartomeu admitted that Messi's retirement is "a while away yet," but the club are not looking at one player to fill the void that he could -- and probably would -- leave behind him.
While Bartomeu will step down as president in 2021, he knows that the wheels are already in motion and that more talent will be brought through to the senior team.
After all, it started with the acquisition of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax last month for a reported fee of £65m.
"We have to prepare the club for the future," Bartomeu continued.
"We are bringing great young players to the team because we need to continue this era of success. That's our responsibility.
"My mandate will be finished in two seasons. So I need to leave the club in a great position and tell the new president 'that's our legacy.'"
The Barcelona captain signed a new deal back in 2017, which will keep him at the Camp Nou until 2021.
While the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's buyout clause was raised to €700m (£626m) as part of the deal, he said at the time that it was a dream of his to "finish my career at Barça and we are moving down that path."
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has been carefully managing the Argentina captain's fitness this season and his recovery from injuries, too.
Following on from the club's 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final at the Camp Nou, Valverde explained why Messi was on the bench for Wednesday's El Clásico.
"The decisions you make are based on what you think is better for the team and the player," he said (via Goal).
"He had discomfort. Today, he was better but we thought it was best he enter in the second half.
"He could be decisive because we know the danger he creates every time he gets the ball."
Will Barcelona struggle in the same way that Madrid have without Cristiano Ronaldo?
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Featured Image Credit: PA