Quique Setien has expressed his belief that Lionel Messi and Barcelona “will always be united”, while dismissing rumours of a potential move to Inter for the Argentine superstar.
Messi continues to set unprecedented standards of excellence at Camp Nou at the age of 32, and has shown no sign of slowing down as he approaches the latter stages of his illustrious career.
The diminutive magician has contributed 24 goals and 16 assists to Barca’s cause in 31 outings across all competitions this season, helping them return to the Liga summit while also reaching the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Blaugrana have won 10 La Liga titles and four European Cups with Messi leading their charge, and he was awarded a record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or in 2019 after enjoying another outstanding year.
The Argentina international has spent the last 16 years at Camp Nou, but there is a clause in his current contract which permits him to leave at the end of any season should he choose to do so.
A number of off-field issues have overshadowed Barca’s latest campaign, with a public spat between Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal over Ernesto Valverde’s sacking in January marking the lowest point for the club.
It has been reported that a prized asset is ready to call time on a historic spell in Catalunya when the transfer market reopens due to all the controversy, with Inter mooted as a possible next destination.
However, Setien – the man who succeeded Valverde at the start of the year – has rejected any notion of Messi moving onto pastures new before he hangs up his boots.
The Barca boss told Gazzetta dello Sport: “He will leave Barcelona for free? No, it won’t happen. Messi and Barcelona will always be united. It’s just like that. Leo has been at Barca for 20 years and nobody could explain a breakdown situation.”