Former Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez is confident Lionel Messi will remain with the Catalan giants for the rest of his career.
Barca’s priority is to tie Messi to a long-term deal and are hopeful of doing so before the end of this year.
The Argentina captain is under contract until June 2018 and Marca recently claimed that the 29-year-old Messi does not wish to consider his future until the end of his current deal.
“I’m in contact with Messi and I see him happy,” Xavi told Spanish radio Cadena Cope. “I haven’t spoken to him about his contact extension but he knows that Barcelona is the best club in the world for him and I don’t see him in any other club.
“If I had to bet, I wouldn’t [bet] on seeing Messi in another club.”
Messi, the club’s all-time leading scorer, celebrated his 500th goal for Barca in a 2-1 win at Sevilla on Nov. 6.
He last signed a contract extension with the Catalan giants in May 2014 and has a €250 million release clause. Messi has been shortlisted among other players for The Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2016 award.
The Argentina captain scored 26 goals and set up 16 more in 33 league appearances to help Barca retain the La Liga title last season.
A five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Messi also hit the back of the net five times and had six assists in five starts as Barca also won a second straight Copa del Rey in the 2015-16 campaign.
Messi faces stiff competition from Real Madrid foward Cristiano Ronaldo for the award that will be given in a ceremony in Zurich on Jan. 9, 2017.
A four-time Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo converted the decisive spot-kick in a penalty shootout against Atletico Madrid as Real Madrid won the Champions League trophy last season.
He then captained Portugal as they won Euro 2016 in France. The 31-year-old Ronaldo scored 51 goals in 48 games last season for his club.
“If we base it on collective titles, the favourite for the award is Cristiano,” Xavi, who now plays for Qatari club Al Sadd SC, said.
“But if we base it on the best footballer in the planet, for me there is no doubt. That’s Messi.”
Messi and Ronaldo will face each other in the first Clasico of the season on Saturday when La Liga leaders Real visit the Camp Nou to face Barca.