Lionel Messi is unlikely to leave Barcelona and it would be a "nice story" if the Argentine legend were to finish his career at Camp Nou, according to Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero.
Reports emerged this month that Messi may be tempted to walk away from Barca after a public row with the club's sporting director Eric Abidal.
The timing of the rift with his former team-mate came at a difficult time for Barca, given Messi has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free at the end of the campaign.
Manchester City were linked with an audacious move that would have seen Messi link up with ex-Barca boss Pep Guardiola, who denied he would try to press ahead with a deal, while Serie A champions Juve have also been touted with putting together a package.
The latter would of course see Messi line up alongside long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo but former Italy international Del Piero believes the Argentina superstar – a nominee for Sportsman of the Year at the 20th annual Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday – has little desire for a Barca exit.
Speaking ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards, Del Piero told Omnisport: "He [Messi] is a genius.
"It's easy to nominate a player like him. He has had an important season. So that's why he has been nominated for this award.
"I don't think he is thinking about leaving the club. He's got a solid relationship with the club. Everything suggests he can stay there all his career. It's going to be a nice story."
Del Piero won six Serie A titles and the Champions League during a distinguished career at Juve, who he represented between 1993 and 2012.
Juve have been the dominant force in Serie A for almost a decade, winning eight consecutive league titles.
This season has been a thriller thus far in Italy's top flight, though, with table-toppers Juve just a point clear of second-place Lazio and three of Inter in third.
Del Piero thinks the battle for supremacy can only be a good thing for Italian football.
"Finally we have a title race [in Serie A] that can last for more than three or four months," he added.
"We were used to seeing Juventus having a big gap in January. This situation is positive.
"Inter have improved a lot and Lazio are having an incredible season. We are happy for this challenge in Italy."Published 17 Feb 2020, 17:02 IST