A man who represented the Blaugrana and Real Madrid in his playing days hopes an Argentine icon can be convinced to remain in Spanish football
Lionel Messi remains an irreplaceable presence for La Liga, claims former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Luis Milla, with the Argentine urged to stay put despite seeing “life go on” after Cristiano Ronaldo swapped life in Spain for that at Juventus.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner pushed for a move away from Camp Nou over the summer.
Frustration towards the end of a disappointing 2019-20 campaign boiled over as the 33-year-old opened himself up to a new challenge.
Barca, unsurprisingly, refused to bow to pressure and Messi eventually revealed to Goal that he will be honouring the final year of his contract.
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A fresh start in 2021 may still be sought, with suitors able to hold talks from January, and there remains a serious threat to those in Catalunya that a talismanic figure could force his way through the exits.
Milla hopes Messi will avoid heading the same way as eternal rival Ronaldo, who linked up with Juve in 2018, as the South American remains the undoubted star turn in Spanish football and would leave a void that could prove almost impossible to fill.
“I think it is great for Spanish football that Messi has stayed. He’s an ambitious player and wants to win titles,” Milla told Tribal Football.
“That didn’t happen for him last season and, on top of that, he wasn’t connecting well with the sporting director and there wasn’t a good feeling with the directors and president in general. Also, there were tensions regarding the change of managers during last season too.
“Essentially, Messi is a mature player in his approach to situations like this. He knows that Barcelona is a club that fits with his style of playing football and shares a winning mentality too.
“Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo has left La Liga and life goes on and Messi could go in the future and life would go on in La Liga too… with other great players…but players like Messi are just not replaceable, they are one-of-a-kind, one-off players.
“Yes, La Liga would survive without Messi but it wouldn’t be the same. I’m glad that he has stayed.”
Barca are still hoping that Messi can be convinced to pen fresh terms, extending his career-long association with the club, but they are not due to hold their presidential elections until late-January 2021 and a door is being left open for European rivals to swoop in.