Lionel Messi may be offered a ‘lifetime contract’ at Barcelona this season

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It’s difficult to imagine Barcelona without Lionel Messi and vice versa.

The Argentine forward is synonymous with the Blaugrana, arguably to an extent greater than that of any other footballer and their club.

Messi is part of the furniture at the Nou Camp and unlikely to wear the shirt of any other team before he hangs up his boots.

His current deal runs until 2021, though Barca are expected to offer him a four-year extension that would see him remain on the books until he’s 36.

While that’s inherently good news for the Catalan giants, it also highlights the fact Messi is approaching the twilight of his career.

Barcelona are acutely aware of the situation, and according to club president Josep Bartomeu, planning for life without the greatest player of all-time is already in motion.

“We think it is our obligation to work on the post-Messi era,” he told Reuters.

“We are thinking about a post-Messi era because we are bringing in new players.

“We have to think about this changing era when Messi will give up playing football but, as president, I hope that he is going to be (have) very large years playing with us still.”

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To that end, according to AS, Bartomeu will open talks with Messi during the forthcoming season to discuss a ‘lifetime contract’.

Such an agreement would allow the Argentina international to retire or try a new experience in another country at his discretion, and then later return to Barcelona as a coach or ambassador.

Andres Iniesta signed a similar contract in 2017 before leaving to play for Japanese side Vissel Kobe last summer.

Messi has rarely been linked with a move away from Barca, yet pledging the remainder of his working life to Barca would no doubt delight fans around the world.

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Imagine the source of inspiration the five-time Ballon d'Or winner would provide if he went down the coaching route at La Masia.

Even as an ambassador, Messi could still have a huge influence on the goings-on at his beloved club.

However it pans out, there's every indication we can look forward to another three to fours years of watching him at the peak of his powers.

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