Lionel Messi is still at Barcelona only because he promised Tito Vilanova: Henk ten Cate
According to former Barcelona assistant Henk ten Cate, Lionel Messi is still at Barcelona only because he made a promise to the late Tito Vilanova before the former Barca coach passed away. Vilanova lost his battle with cancer last year and passed away in April at the age of 45.
Henk ten Cate is a Dutch coach who was at the Catalan club between 2003 and 2006. He was the assistant to Frank Rijkaard and was in the side when Messi made his debut in 2004.
With reports of Messi being unhappy at Barcelona and at loggerheads with coach Luis Enrique, Ten Cate revealed that the problems started two years ago. Messi has also put pressure on the Barcelona board by following Chelsea and its players on Instagram.
Messi promised Vilanova on his deathbed: Ten Cate
According to Dutch daily De Telegraaf, Ten Cate said: "Messi is only still at Barcelona because he promised it to Tito Vilanova at his deathbed."
The Argentina forward was very close to the Spanish manager who was initially the assistant manager to Pep Guardiola before he took over the job after Guardiola’s departure. But he suffered from cancer and missed parts of the 2012/13 season after surgery and subsequent chemotherapy.
Vilanova finally stepped down in July 2013 when he relapsed from his condition. He died in 2014 due to complications. Messi was visibly shaken after his death and even dedicated his next goal to Vilanova.
Transfer for Messi would be best for him and Barcelona: Ten Cate
Although Messi promised Vilanova he’d stay, Ten Cate suggested that a transfer away from the Camp Nou would be best for both the player and the club.
“I think a transfer would be in everybody's best interest,” Ten Cate said.
“Lionel has been at Barcelona for quite a while and he needs a new challenge. He's still worth a lot of money now but his value will only go down from here on.”