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Victor Font insists Lionel Messi can be persuaded to stay at Barcelona

Font insists Messi can be persuaded to stay at Barca
© Reuters
Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font insists that Lionel Messi can still be convinced to stay at the club despite expressing his desire to leave in the summer.

Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font has insisted that Lionel Messi can be persuaded to stay at the club beyond the end of this season.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has spent his entire career with the Spanish giants but unsuccessfully attempted to force an exit during the summer, arguing that a clause in his contract allowed him to leave on a free transfer.

Messi was eventually forced into a reluctant U-turn, but his current deal expires in 2021 and he will be free to open talks with foreign clubs over a move from January.

The 33-year-old is widely expected to leave, with Manchester City thought to be leading the race for his signature, but Font is hopeful that a new president will be able to convince him to stay after Josep Maria Bartomeu stepped down from his position earlier this year.

"Obviously we know [Messi leaving] is a possibility because he said he wanted to leave last summer, but we are hopeful. The elections are coming in 60 days and we will have a new board and a new president and a new project," Font told BBC Sport.

"What Messi needs in order to stay at the club is a competitive project. He wants to win - obviously the lack of a project in recent times has affected the way we compete and therefore I'm very much hoping that whenever the new president takes over, hopefully it will be us, we can convince him to stay.

"Every time [Man City manager] Pep Guardiola speaks about this, he says it very clearly that he believes that Messi should stay at Barca and that he's a Barca one-club man. He wishes that he finishes his career at FC Barcelona.

"We need to ensure he understands there is a project, a winning - a competitive project. For us, the association between Barca and Messi is a very strategic association. He's been at the club since he was 13 and we believe that this association needs to go even beyond the days that he's on the pitch.

"We believe that this association has a lot of potential for the years to come and we are hopeful that if we present this to him and his team he will see this as a good opportunity."

Man City have reportedly drawn up a 10-year plan for Messi, who has scored 640 goals in 742 games for Barcelona.

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Barcelona captain Lionel Messi pictured on November 7, 2020
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