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Lionel Messi expected to retire with Barcelona in 3-4 years, per club president

Lionel Messi, Josep Maria Bartomeu

Rumors surrounding Lionel Messi’s potential departure from the Camp Nou have run rampant once again after Barcelona gave up its grip on the title race, leaving longtime rival Real Madrid the opportunity to snatch it away upon the restart of La Liga.

A potential move to Inter Milan — which is willing to throw everything and the kitchen sink to sign Messi as a free transfer in 2021 — and even a return to his boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina before hanging the boots up for good have been reasons for fodder in the last few weeks.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu noted none of those conjectures will materialize, confident Lionel Messi will sign an extension with the club in the upcoming year and remain a Blaugrana for the foreseeable future.

Via AS:

“It’s not just me who says it. Messi says it himself, that he wants to finish his professional playing career at Barcelona and it’s the only club for him,” Bartomeu told beIN SPORTS. “I don’t have any doubt that when he finishes his football career in three or four years that it will be here in Barcelona.

“Messi has it very clear. He’s been here since he was a kid. He knows the colors and he’s a part of the club’s history.

“He’s the best player in the world. Not just right now, but in the history of the game. He’s at Barcelona and has made clear he wants to stay here.”

Bartomeu has never been short of confidence when it comes to keeping his stars content. Lionel Messi is no exception.

The Argentine expressed frustration after Barcelona ran out of steam late in the season, conceding the title to heated rivals Real Madrid — something that sparked rumors of his potential departure.

Messi has been mum when it comes to his contractual situation, but he’s clamored for a reunion with former budding mate Neymar. Perhaps the two linking up again in the Camp Nou could prove key to make him stay and bring Bartomeau’s vision to fruition.

Lionel Messi has yet to even mention retirement, but the 33-year-old could realistically call it a career within the next three to four years, depending on his chances to collect more hardware with the club in the not-so-distant future.