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12-Nov-2020, 07:20 pm

Messi backed to retire at Barcelona by Stoichkov but club legend admits there is ‘always a but’

Lionel Messi Barcelona 2020-21

Hristo Stoichkov remains convinced that Lionel Messi will retire as a Barcelona player, but the Blaugrana legend admits “there is always a but”.

Messi aired a desire to move on, after taking in a frustrating end to the 2019-20 campaign, and believed that an exit clause in his contract would allow him to seek out a new challenge.

Barca, though bolted the doors and made it clear that they would not be sanctioning a switch elsewhere.

Messi opted against entering into a legal dispute with a club that holds a special place in his heart and revealed in an exclusive interview with Goal that he will be honouring his contract.

No fresh terms have been agreed since agreeing to stay on, meaning that he is still due to hit free agency in the summer of 2021, but Stoichkov believes an all-time great will put pen to paper at some stage.

The iconic former frontman told Mundo Deportivo: “I think he will retire here but there is always a but.

“As a fan and former player, I would like it to be like that but I am not part of his future thinking.

“I am glad and happy that he stayed.You have to take care of him and pamper him.It is too bad that there are no supporters at the moment to show their love.

“On Instagram sometimes I put a photo up with him and I see positive comments towards him.I love him very much.Lefties never fail.”

Stoichkov also believes that Antoine Griezmann can overcome his struggles at Barca and flourish alongside Messi – a player some have suggested he endures a strained relationship with.

“Antoine is a very humble boy, he is not selfish and that is the most important thing, he works for the team and you have to support him,” Stoichkov added.

“It is not necessary to always condemn players.He must work and I trust him to do so.All the players must help him.”

Ronald Koeman will have a part to play in bringing the best out of Griezmann and Co, with Stoichkov confident that his former team-mate will be a success in the most demanding of coaching posts after taking important lessons from the great Johan Cruyff.

“He's from the mister's school, may he rest in peace,” Stoichkov said of a man who played alongside him as part of a star-studded Barca team in the 1990s.

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