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03-Nov-2020, 03:48 pm

‘Barcelona need to take care of Messi in a special way’ – Rakitic urges former club to get behind Argentine

Lionel Messi Barcelona 2020-21

Lionel Messi needs to be treated in a “very special way” at Barcelona, says Ivan Rakitic, with a former team-mate of the mercurial Argentine admitting that a player of his ilk may never be seen again.

At 33 years of age, though, it is yet to be determined where the final chapters of a remarkable career will be written.

Barca are hoping to see a one-club man extend his association with them beyond the summer of 2021, but exit thoughts have already been formed.

Messi pushed for a move elsewhere on the back of a disappointing end to the 2019-20 campaign, only to see the Blaugrana block his path.

As things stand, he will be free to discuss pre-contract terms with any of his many suitors from January.

A presidential election is set to be held at Camp Nou before then, as Josep Maria Bartomeu is forced out amid a vote of no confidence, and it may be that change leads Messi to reconsider his options.

Rakitic hopes that proves to be the case, with the ex-Blaugrana midfielder aware of the need for those in Catalunya to handle a mercurial talent with care.

He told Muchodeporte: “Players of that level are different from everyone else and the other players have to take care of them in a very special way because of their ability to make a difference.

“We do not know if in the future we will be lucky enough to see a footballer like Leo again.”

While Barcelona are refusing to give on keeping Messi around, presidential candidate Pere Riera has claimed that the South American will be given no special treatment if he takes the reins at boardroom level.

He has told Radio Marca: “In my opinion, Messi has to stay at Barcelona and not with history. It's not good for anyone.

“In the end,it's Messi who decideshis future. I very much doubt that Messi wanted to leave Barcelona in the summer.

“I wouldn't pull out all the stops for Messi."

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