Football

Lionel Messi.

Barcelona have identified Lionel Messi's long-term successor

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It's a question frequently asked by football fans and the media alike: how will Barcelona cope when Lionel Messi eventually retires?

At 29-years-old, the Argentina international is still a good number of years away from hanging up his boots but Barcelona need to be proactive about finding an able replacement.

The day Messi quits football will mark the dawn of a new era for the Catalonians; for years they've relied on their little magician to win matches and silverware.

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But who's out there that can succeed arguably football's greatest ever player?

It's a burden that will one day be placed on someone's shoulders but according to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have already earmarked Messi's long-term successor.

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Having lost out on the highly-rated Ousmane Dembele to Borussia Dortmund last summer, manager Luis Enrique is reportedly lining up a summer move for Juventus striker Paulo Dybala.

And it's easy to see why. In his debut season for the Old Lady, the 22-year-old scored 19 Serie A goals and assisted a further nine, coming second only to now teammate Gonzalo Higuain.

The stumbling block for Barcelona, simply, is the sheer amount of money Dybala would likely cost, let alone how he's regarded as a prized asset by Juventus.

Indeed, following Paul Pogba's record-breaking move to Manchester United in the summer, Dybala was handed the No.10 jersey.

Juventus FC v US Sassuolo - Serie A

For club legend Xavi, his former employers should move heaven and earth to sign a player who has the "Barcelona DNA".

He said earlier this year, per Goal: "There are two players out there who I really like and who I think have Barcelona DNA.

"I am talking about [Marco] Verratti and Dybala. They are incredible.

"They would fit in easily at Barcelona because of their quality and style of play. I see future Barcelona players in them."

FC Barcelona v Celtic FC - UEFA Champions League

Where Messi's eventual retirement is concerned, Barcelona manager Enrique will worry little about something so far away but might regret not having his star man available for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.

He even went as far to say that losing Messi means losing football.

"I have different kinds of players and that gives me a lot of options," he said. "Depending on who we are playing and the players I have available, I will pick the ones that I think are right for the situation.

"To lose Messi means that football loses. With Messi we are stronger, but we will continue being strong."

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Topics:
La Liga
Luis Suarez
Football
Paulo Dybala
Lionel Messi
Barcelona
UEFA Champions League
Argentina Football
Neymar

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