Lionel Messi is set to receive a contract extension by Barcelona – but the club still have one eye on the future.
Messi turns 32 in June and Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu admits they are already gearing up for a time they won't be able to call on his services.
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Bartomeu has pinpointed five players as the men to lead the Catalan giants into the post-Messi era – namely Ousmane Dembele, Clement Lenglet, Arthur Melo, Frenkie De Jong and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Bartomeu told ESPN FC: “Maybe in three, four or five years, Leo Messi will say: ‘OK, I am going to stop playing football.
“So we are preparing our club for the future, for the time post-Leo. Because we would like to still be the top club at that time. So, it's a way of working, of investing, also of taking risks.
“We invest in young players, on homegrown players from La Masia, but also on bringing players from other clubs, just to keep this level of excellence.
“Sometimes I explain to members of the club and the board, what we are doing is bringing right now very young players to the club.
“Young players that we think are very talented: [Clement] Lenglet, Ousmane Dembele, Arthur Melo, Frenkie de Jong, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is still very young.
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“There a lot of players that will continue playing after the Messi era.”
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 years ago