Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font is hopeful he can convince Lionel Messi to stay at the club with the help of his former teammate Xavi.
Messi looks set to call time on his Barcelona career when his contract expires in June, having failed to force his way out in the summer.
A door has opened to a potential U-turn from Messi though, following the departure of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, as candidates vie to succeed him in January’s election.
Font, 48, is among the figures campaigning for votes, and has already made clear his strategy to bring Barca legend Xavi back to the Nou Camp as manager.
But Font concedes his first and most pivotal task -should he be elected – is to do everything in his power to keep Messi at Barcelona.
“When you are lucky enough to have the best player in the world in your team, you need to retain that talent,” Font said.
“If Messi goes to a competitor, we will not find an alternative easily as there is no alternative to Messi. So that’s why retaining him in the short-term is critical.
“But for us the association between Messi and Barca is a strategic relationship and we want to make sure we create the right conditions for Messi to play a role in the club even after he retires. Messi could contribute plenty of ideas.”
Man City are the favourites to land Messi should he look to move on in the summer, while PSG and Inter Milan are also interested in his signature.
However, Messi’s biggest gripe was the direction his club was heading in, and with Bartomeu now removed, there is a slight chance he could stay put.
Xavi – who currently manages Qatari-based side Al Sadd – would no doubt jump at the chance to return to his old club, albeit at Ronald Koeman’s expense.
Should Messi leave Barcelona in the summer? Have your say below.
And Font is planning to lean on Xavi’s close relationship with his former teammate Messi to give the Argentine a tough decision.
“Messi needs to be convinced we have a competitive and winning project and Xavi can play a decisive role in us doing that,” Font continued.
“Xavi’s credibility and know-how about football is the right one to convince someone like Messi.
“They are friends, they know each other, they trust each other and that’s going to be key.”