Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen believes club talisman Lionel Messi should be in control of his own future at the club.
In an interview with Sport, Messi said he wants to stay at the Camp Nou for "as long as possible," but he does not want to be tied to a long-term contract and wants to see the team remain competitive at the highest level.
Per Goal's Ben Spratt, Ter Stegen said:
"[Messi] deserves to choose his own future. The easiest thing is for us to tell him to stay because he's a key player for us and his level is so high.
"I'm convinced he's really happy in the team, at the club and in the city. It's hard for him to move.
"Personally, I want him to stay, but I don't decide. We're going to tell him to stay and we hope he does."
Messi is in the final two years of his contract with Barcelona.
His future has come under scrutiny recently following a report from El Pais (h/t AS) in which he is said to have a clause in his deal that allows him to leave the club for free at the end of each season if he wishes.
Barca defender Gerard Pique shared Ter Stegen's view on the matter:
Messi has played 687 times for Barca—only Xavi Hernandez has made more appearances—and he's the record goalscorer with an astonishing 603 goals. He's also contributed 242 assists for the club.
His efforts have helped the club win 34 trophies over the course of his career, including 10 La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions Leagues and six Copas del Rey.
Now that he's 32, Barca will be acutely aware he'll soon be entering the twilight of his career and that it will be vital for them to have a plan of succession in place when he eventually leaves.
It would be disastrous to lose him before they're ready, though. That would particularly be the case while he's still the world's best, and given the immense value he'd command in the transfer market a free transfer would see them miss out on a substantial fee.
Although Messi may have earned the right to decide on the timing of his departure from the club, Barcelona must do all they can to ensure he does so at the right time for both parties.