With the continued speculation surrounding current Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, Argentine forward Lionel Messi has come out stating who he would like to take charge at the Camp Nou if the Spaniard decides to leave the club.

Three-time World Player of the Year, Messi has reinstated that he would love his current manager to stay with the European champions. However, Athletic Bilbao manager Marcelo Bielsa could be an ideal replacement.

He said: “I hope he stays much longer. It would be best for us. It's a situation he has to think about, though, and every year, he has done the same.”

Guardiola has led the Spanish giants to 13 trophies in the last four seasons – receiving many plaudits along the way - and Messi amongst others have shown their manger continued support when in the media spotlight.

However, when asked about a possible replacement for his manager, Messi highlighted Bielsa's growing appreciation for the Bilbao coach - who Barcelona face in the Copa Del Rey final in May.

Bielsa, 56, has led his Bilbao side into a strong position within La Liga, with the side in contention to grab a Champions League spot come the end of the season.

The club from Biscay are also going strong on a European scale – with progression into the last 16 of the Europa League, where they will face English opponents in the name of Manchester United over the two legs.

“It is wonderful that things are going so well for Bielsa” said Messi.

“I have always said that he is a coach that I like. Many say that he is very similar to Guardiola."

If Guardiola does decide to part company with the Catalonians, Barca fans need not worry about a mass exodus – with Messi illustrating his intention to stay at the club for as long as his career allows.

The 24 year old, who currently has 28 league goals to his name this season, said: “My intention is to stay always at the club.

"I'm here a long time. It's my home. I have no intention of leaving. If it were up to me I would stay my whole career at Barca."

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