Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font has expressed his determination to keep Lionel Messi at all costs, saying he hopes the prospective appointment of Xavi as manager will convince the captain to extend his stay beyond 2021.
Messi has naturally become a central part of the conversation ahead of Barça's presidential elections in January. Interim president Carles Tusquets recently backtracked over his comment that he 'would have sold' the Argentine star in the summer, while Jordi Farre, who will also stand for election, pledged this week to do everything he could to keep Messi at the club.
Now Font has weighed in with his two cents, telling ESPN that Messi - whose contract expires in the summer - is at the heart of a 'long-term' project.
"I'm convinced that with a competitive, exciting and, especially in Messi's case, long-term project - one that could even go beyond the day that Messi retires - we will convince him to stay," he said.
"Messi is the best player in the history of the number one sport in the world. Imagine what that means. For that reason, the Messi-Barça association is a strategic one and we must do everything possible to guarantee the association lives on.
"Keeping in mind he can speak with other clubs in January, phoning Messi [if I win the election] must be one of the priorities."
He went on to reveal his ambitions to bring in Barça legend Xavi as manager, hoping his return to the club could play a role in keeping Messi tied down. Xavi is currently in charge of Qatari side Al Sadd, but was in the running for job at Camp Nou before Ronald Koeman's appointment, as he was before Quique Setien arrived in January.
"[Xavi] is one of the most important parts of the sporting project we have designed," Font added.
"The fact Messi and Xavi know each other [is good]. Xavi is someone Messi trusts. I know Messi would welcome the leadership Xavi can bring.
"But it's about the whole project, not just one person. What's important in the Messi case, to excite supporters again and, above all, to emerge from the complicated situation the club is in at all levels, is the whole project. It's not one name or a coach, it's the whole structure."