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COMMENT: Lionel Messi has been taken for granted – by Barcelona, and by all  of us

Lionel Messi is the only player who can ensure Barcelona’s value, according to presidential candidate Lluis Fernandez. Messi wanted to leave Barca last year, due to frustration with the club’s board and then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner ultimately elected to stay and see out his contract, which runs out at the end of the season, before Bartomeu and the entire Barca board resigned in October.

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There has been talking that Messi may choose to remain at the club he has been at since 2001, having helped them to 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues.

However, Messi, who marked his 500th LaLiga appearance by teeing up Frenkie de Jong’s winner against Huesca last time out, will not make a decision until towards the end of the season – something Barca coach Ronald Koeman insists is not a problem.

With the presidential elections coming up on January 24, each candidate is outlining their vision for the future of the club, and Fernandez has vowed to do all he can to keep Messi at Camp Nou, outlining the financial benefits of retaining the 33-year-old. “We can’t forget that Barcelona has a greater income because of Messi,” he told Radio Marca. “Barcelona would have less value without Messi.

“He is the only player in the squad who, by his mere presence, ensures Barcelona has more value and more income. “We need income, but we also need to manage the club’s structure. There’s a need to negotiate the debt. “But, there’s no danger of Barcelona being forced to become a limited company. The members can rest assured about that.”

Fernandez also wants the club to return to its roots and promote more players from its famed La Masia academy. Ansu Fati is the most recent prodigy off Barca’s production line and, should he win the election, Fernandez will speak to Koeman about the importance of giving youth a chance.

We agree that Ronald Koeman should be given a chance,” Fernandez added. “We need to speak with him because there’s a need to give opportunities to the players from the academy.

“No starter has come out of La Masia since 2011 when Sergi Roberto did so. So, there’s a need to speak to Koeman about this and about giving opportunities. “From next year, we need to promote young players, as we won’t be able to sign as much and we’ll need to reduce the wage bill.”


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