BARCELONA. — Former Barcelona defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst has said he hopes Lionel Messi will finish his football career at the Camp Nou, as speculation swirls about the superstar’s future.
Messi is reportedly frustrated with Barcelona’s failure to build a top-notch squad, and tired of purported leaks from the Spanish club which paint him in a bad light.
Radio station Cadena Ser reported last week that the Argentine had broken off negotiations on extending his contract, which runs until 2021, and was thinking of leaving.
Dutchman van Bronckhorst, 45, who is now coaching Guangzhou R&F in China, told AFP: “I would love to see him be part of Barcelona for his whole career.
“He’s one of the (few) players to stay his whole career at the same club.
“I admire him as a person and a player and hopefully he will stay there. That’s what I’d love to see.”
Van Bronckhorst left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2003 and won the Champions League in 2006, when a young Messi was already building a fearsome reputation.
“I’ve known him since he was 16 and now he’s 33,” said Van Bronckhorst.
“He’s developed into a great human being, he’s a family man and he’s more than capable of making his own decisions about where his future lies and whether he leaves.
“He will decide himself, but I can’t imagine a Barcelona without him.”
Spanish La Liga Fixtures
Today: Osasuna v Celta de Vigo (5pm); Real Valladolid v Barcelona (7:30pm); Atlético Madrid v Real Betis (10pm).
Tomorrow: Espanyol v Eibar (2pm); Levante v Athletic Club (5pm); Leganés v Valencia (7:30pm); Sevilla v Mallorca (10pm).
Monday: Villarreal v Real Sociedad (7:30pm); Deportivo Alavés v Getafe (7:30pm); Granada v Real Madrid (10pm). — AFP.