Barcelona will offer Lionel Messi a “job for life” to keep the Argentine superstar out of the clutches of Manchester City.
Presidential candidate Víctor Font revealed that he plans to give Messi, 33, a position “beyond the days he is on the field.”
The captain of the Catalan giants will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season after having spent his entire professional career at the Camp Nou.
Messi had expressed his desire to leave last summer and fell out with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, but took a dramatic U-turn after refusing to take his beloved side onto the pitch to force an exit.
Manchester City were linked with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and SunSport revealed last week that Pep Guardiola is eager to try again in January.
However, Font warned Messi’s Citizens, as the presidential favorite seeks to secure the forward’s long-term future amid the possibility that he may leave.
The 48-year-old told the BBC: “Obviously, we know it’s a possibility because he said he wanted to leave last summer, but we are hopeful.
“The elections are coming in 60 days and we will have a new board and a new president and a new project.
“What Messi needs to stay at the club is a competitive project. You want to win; Obviously the lack of a project in recent times has affected the way we compete and therefore I hope that every time the new president takes office, hopefully it will be us, we can convince him to stay.
“For us, the association between Barça and Messi is very strategic. He has been with the club since he was 13 years old and we believe that this association needs to go beyond the days he is on the field. [post retirement].
“We believe this partnership has a lot of potential for the next few years and we are hopeful that if we introduce him and his team, he will see this as a good opportunity.”
When asked about the possibility of City signing Messi, Font added: “Every time Pep Guardiola talks about this, he says very clearly that he thinks Messi should stay at Barça and that he is a man from a single club from the Barça.
“He wants him to finish his career at FC Barcelona.”
Messi was disillusioned with Barcelona after the club handed over its league crown to Real Madrid and ended last season with an 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Messi, who has scored 640 goals in 742 games for Barca, was unable to secure a free start in the summer after failing to establish that his release clause had not expired.
And the Blaugrana have had a difficult start to a new campaign, suffering the worst start to the season in 29 years, ranking tenth in LaLiga after eight games.
City could also offer him a long-term position within their City Football Group to help attract him to the Etihad.
Messi missed Barça’s 4-0 Champions League win on the road at Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday after being rested by manager Ronald Koeman.