‘Messi has to play until he’s 70 so we can enjoy him!’ – Eto’o hoping Barcelona icon sticks around

The former Blaugrana striker is looking for those at Camp Nou to put enough quality around the Argentine that he is not tempted to move on

Samuel Eto’o is looking for Lionel Messi to “play until he’s 70”, with a former Camp Nou team-mate of the mercurial Argentine eager to see Barcelona build “the best team in the world”.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has offered no indication that he will be looking for a way out of Catalunya any time soon.

The one-club man is, however, only tied to a contract through to the summer of 2021 and is yet to commit to fresh terms.

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An exit clause has expired in the current campaign, but questions are being asked of how long the 32-year-old forward will stick around in his current surroundings.

Eto’o hopes an all-time great still has many more chapters to write in a remarkable story at Barca, with the former Blaugrana frontman eager to see more top talent drafted in alongside Messi.

He told Marca: “Leo is the best player in the world and the best of all time. I’d always pick the team asking Messi who he wanted next to him, in his team.

“Every team in the world wants Messi. Then, you have to give him support. He can’t run like a 25-year-old kid anymore, although he does sometimes.

“What we have to do as Barcelona fans is give him the best team in the world to keep enjoying him. He has to play until he’s 70 so that we can enjoy him more.”

Quique Setien is the coach currently calling the shots at Camp Nou, but a return to his roots has been mooted for Pep Guardiola.

The Catalan tactician remains at Manchester City for now, but they have the threat of a two-year European ban hanging over them.

It may be that Guardiola is tempted to head back to Barca at some point, with Eto’o a big fan of the 49-year-old’s methods but not his personality.

The ex-Cameroon international said of his former boss: “I stick to what I said, and I’m not the only person who has said it. My experience with Pep at Barcelona was what it was, but on a personal level it wasn’t what we hoped for.

“Many players have said the same about him. As a coach, Pep prepares games like nobody else. How he coached us in 2009 was incredible, his way of seeing attacking football, control, having the ball, rondos, Pep was the best at that.

“As a player, you had the feeling that you didn’t run much, although you did, because you were enjoying it. They are specific techniques for those of us who love good football.

“For me, football is feeling like you’re in a theatre, and seeing tiki-taka, passing the ball, it’s not the only way to win but it’s special. It’s Pep’s way.”

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