The fact that Lionel Messi could end his career-long association with Barcelona “hurts a lot”, says Rafael Marquez, with the former Blaugrana star still hoping to see a new contract thrashed out.
As things stand, a six-time Ballon d’Or winner will drop into the free-agent pool when his current deal expires in the summer.
La Liga giants have not given up hope on extending that agreement, but questions continue to be asked of Messi’s future as the 33-year-old mulls over his options at an important career crossroads.
What has been said?
Marquez, who spent seven memorable years at Camp Nou in his playing days and was in Catalunya as Messi burst onto the scene, has told Ataque Futbolero: “He has given the best of himself every year and it hurts a lot that he can leave Barcelona.
“There is still uncertainty whether he will leave or stay.
“It would be nice if he stayed to finish his career.”
Mexican legend Marquez added, with Ronald Koeman’s side still in the hunt for major honors this season: “Hopefully Messi can win something with his team, it's my wish, but if he doesn't, I don't think it will minimize what Leo is.
“He is one of the best footballers in the history of this sport.”
Who has been linked with Messi?
Few clubs possess the financial strength and sporting ambition to appeal to an all-time great, but a couple of big-spending outfits do form part of an elite group.
Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City boast the monetary backing and on-field success required to entice Messi onto their respective books.
Both will also feel that they have aces in their pack if talks were to be opened, with PSG now working under the guidance of Argentine tactician Mauricio Pochettino while having former Barca forward Neymar in their ranks.
At City, Messi knows all about Pep Guardiola, having enjoyed considerable success under the Catalan in the past, and may be tempted to try his luck in England.
When will Messi make a decision on his future?
Goal has learned that the mercurial South American will only be stating his intentions when the 2020-21 campaign comes to a close.
That means the rumor mill will continue to tick over for several months yet, with no official announcement coming any time soon.
Barca believes that stance could work in their favor, with the Blaugrana set to elect a new president on March 7 that will be free to hold talks with Messi before his current contract expires.