Barcelona’s coach Luis Enrique / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique insists Lionel Messi will remain at the Catalan giants for many years to come, but was less explicit over his own future when quizzed on Friday.
Barca boss Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed on Thursday that he remains confident Messi, 29, will end his career at the Camp Nou despite having just 18 months left to run on his contract.
“I also imagine that Leo Messi will remain for many years at Barca,” said Enrique ahead of his side’s clash at home to Malaga on Saturday.
“It would be beautiful for a player that left his homeland at such a young age and with such hope that he could finish his career as undoubtedly the best player of all-time at the club that gave him the opportunity.
“For me it would be the perfect story.”
After extending Neymar’s deal to 2021, Barca hope to tie down Luis Suarez to a long-term contract before concluding a new deal with Messi.
However, there has been no such rush to extend Enrique’s deal, which expires at the end of the season, despite an impressive haul of eight trophies in just over two seasons in charge.
“I have suddenly lost my imagination,” he replied when pressed over whether he saw his own future at the Camp Nou beyond the end of the season.
Barca trail Real Madrid by two points, but only a first Real win in the Spanish capital’s derby over Atletico Madrid in La Liga for four seasons later on Saturday will prevent Barca finishing the weekend on top should they register a fifth straight league win.
“I would like both of them to lose,” quipped Enrique on his preferred outcome of the Madrid derby.
Barca will be depleted by the absence of the injured Samuel Umtiti and Andres Iniesta, whilst Suarez is suspended.
However, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba are both fit to return from injury.