Lionel Messi has less than a year left on his current contract and all indications are that he is going to find a new club at the end of the season. La Liga President Javier Tebas is of the opinion that Messi would be damaging his reputation should he leave the Catalan club.
The 33-year-old has spent the entirety of his professional career with Barcelona, having joined La Masia as a 13-year-old and his marriage with the Blaugrana has been an immensely successful one for both parties.
Fame, fortune, and individual glory have been afforded to Lionel Messi, while the Catalan giants have enjoyed unprecedented success ever since the Argentine became their talisman.
Before now, it was a foregone conclusion that the Rosario native would finish his career at Camp Nou, but Messi sent shockwaves around the world when he submitted a transfer request to Barcelona stating his intention to leave in August.
Several factors were identified, including the club's lack of ambition in recent years but the six-time Ballon d'Or winner ultimately decided to back down on his decision in order to avoid a protracted court case.
However, little has changed in the last weeks to suggest that Barcelona have a blueprint and all indications suggest that Lionel Messi would see out his contract before leaving Camp Nou for free next summer.
Javier Tebas gives his opinion on Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona
Due to his status as one of the most instantly recognizable names and faces on the planet, Barcelona and to a larger extent La Liga have benefited immensely from having Lionel Messi within their ranks.
The Argentina captain has fans running into hundreds of millions around the world and it cannot be argued that the surge in popularity of the league in the last decade had a direct correlation with Lionel Messi.
Another player who boosted the league's profile was Cristiano Ronaldo and with the Portugal international having departed La Liga two years ago, the Spanish top-flight is set to lose another marquee name.
However, the league's president Javier Tebas believes that the league is strong enough to withstand the departure of any player, having done so in the past.
''It wouldn’t be a drama if Messi left. Cristiano Ronaldo left, Neymar left. Neymar went to PSG and I haven’t seen the French league reaching a super level because of him," Tebas said.
“That’s the reality. People who think the players are the ones who define a competition are wrong and I’m glad they think that way because they won’t grow,” he added.
Tebas was speaking at a La Liga event hosted by AFP and he also addressed Messi's legacy, saying:
“We’ve been lucky to enjoy him for so many years but Messi should think very carefully about what he does next.
“If Messi left Barcelona, that reputation he has now and that has worked so well for him would be very damaged. It’s true he could get a better offer financially but with the reputation he has after more than 20 years, I think he has to hold onto that.”
The season has started poorly for Barcelona and they currently find themselves in 12th place on the league table, having failed to defeat Real Madrid for the third game running.
Lionel Messi himself has been beneath his usual standards and is yet to find the back of the net from open play in six matches.Published 25 Oct 2020, 18:53 IST