Barcelona are working to convince Lionel Messi to stay at the club following the Argentina superstar’s bombshell request to leave.
The 33-year-old rocked the Catalan giants on Tuesday night, when it is understood he asked for his contract, which has a year still to run, to be terminated under an end-of-season release clause.
The news sparked anger in the city he has made his home since his teenage years and led to frenzied speculation about potential destinations.
Messi’s intention to quit the Nou Camp came after Ronald Koeman’s appointment as Quique Setien’s successor last week, following a hugely disappointing season which ended with an 8-2 Champions League quarter-final drubbing by Bayern Munich.
However, speaking as the club unveiled new 31million euros signing Francisco Trincao on Wednesday, sporting director Ramon Planes said: “This is evidently the important news.
“As we’ve said many times, as Koeman and the president have said and my position as technical secretary, we count on Messi for the future, just as we count on Trincao as a talent of the future, and we have heard that he will play alongside the greatest player in the history, the greatest player in the world.
“These things happen and we hope we will come back stronger from the defeat at the end of last season.
“What’s happened has happened and our idea is to build a team around the most important player in the world.
“We are not contemplating any kind of departure because what we want is for Messi to stay.
“We only have enormous respect for Leo Messi. Barca and Leo are like a marriage, where both have given so much to each other and have brought so much joy to the fans.
“We are putting every effort into ensuring that the relationship between Barca and Messi will continue. We are working internally to convince Leo.”
Planes presided over the press conference at which the former Braga striker Trincao was presented to the media in the absence of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who had initially been expected to attend.
However, amid calls for him to resign over the Messi saga, he stayed away.
The six-times Ballon d’Or winner has been at the Nou Camp since joining the club’s famed La Masia academy, making his competitive debut as a 17-year-old substitute in a 1-0 LaLiga win at Espanyol in October 2004.
He has since scored a staggering 634 goals and won 33 major trophies, including 10 league titles and four Champions League successes.
Since the news broke, Messi, whose contract is said to contain a 700million euros release clause, has been linked with a series of potential suitors, with Manchester City – managed by former boss Pep Guardiola – and Champions League runners-up Paris St Germain reportedly leading the chase.