Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font has admitted that the club needs to do everything within their power to keep Lionel Messi as he is key to their long-term project. The Argentine is out of contract at the end of the current season and has shown no inclination of signing a new deal.
With the January transfer window not even twenty days away, the rumour mill is heating up, especially with the clock ticking down on Lionel Messi’s time at Barcelona. While a extension is still possible, reports have indicated that the Argentine is waiting for the presidential elections to take place at the Camp Nou before he makes a decision on his future. That hasn’t stopped the rumours though, with links to PSG, Manchester City, Juventus and even Inter Milan amongst other sides.
But reports have also indicated that Barcelona will not let go of their captain without a fight with the club looking to hand him a long-term deal. While that decision has come under criticism from few, it has also seen others proclaim that Messi is a key part. Victor Font is amongst the latter as he admitted that the Argentine is a key part of a long-term project that goes even beyond his playing days. Font, one of nine running to be Barcelona's next president, further added that the club has to do everything possible to keep the 33-year-old.
"I'm convinced that with a competitive, exciting and, especially in Messi's case, long-term project -- one that could even go beyond the day that Messi retires -- we will convince him to stay. Messi is the best player in the history of the No. 1 sport in the world. Imagine what that means," Font told ESPN in an exclusive interview.
“For that reason, the Messi-Barca association is a strategic one and we must do everything possible to guarantee the association lives on. Keeping in mind he can speak with other clubs in January, phoning Messi [if I win the election] must be one of the priorities."
Another of Font’s objectives has been to bring former La Masia graduate and Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez back to the club and have him replace Ronald Koeman as manager. The Barcelona presidential hopeful confirmed the same and admitted that Xavi is a key part of his long-term vision for Barcelona. He further added that he believes Messi “would welcome the leadership Xavi can bring” to Barcelona as they look to change the whole structure.
"[Xavi] is one of the most important parts of the sporting project we have designed. The fact Messi and Xavi know each other [is good]. Xavi is someone Messi trusts. I know Messi would welcome the leadership Xavi can bring.
"But it's about the whole project, not just one person. What's important in the Messi case, to excite supporters again and, above all, to emerge from the complicated situation the club is in at all levels, is the whole project. It's not one name or a coach, it's the whole structure," he added.