MADRID (AP) — Barcelona hasn’t given up on Lionel Messi just yet.
A day after the Argentine great told the club he wants to leave, Barcelona said its restructuring project still revolves around the player.
“We want to rebuild for the future together with the best player in history,” Ramon Planes, the club’s technical director, said Wednesday. “We are not contemplating any departure on a contractual level because we want him to stay. We have to show a huge respect for Messi because he is the best player in the world.”
Planes spoke as Barcelona officially introduced striker Francisco Trincão at an event that had already been scheduled before Messi announced his desire to leave on Tuesday.
“We can’t make this a dispute between Leo Messi and Barcelona because neither deserves it,” Planes said.
Barcelona is trying to avoid an abrupt ending to Messi’s career at the club. His last match with a Barcelona jersey was the embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, one of the worst defeats in the player’s career and in the club’s history.
But Messi apparently has already made up his mind, and it seems only a matter of how ugly the termination will get.