Ronaldinho has given his thoughts on how Barcelona can deal with Lionel Messi’s eventual end to his career at the club.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has been at the forefront of the Catalan club’s success since he turned professional in 2004, helping them to no less than – eight La Liga titles and four Champions League honours.
Messi, who turns 31 in June – recently signed a new deal at the Camp Nou, which will keep him at the club until 2021, when he will turn 34 and it is expected that he will not continue after that deal is finished.
A return to childhood club Newell’s Old Boys has been mentioned, although a retirement from the game could also be decided upon.
His former team-mate Ronaldinho, has discussed the time when Messi’s decision to leave the club comes and what Barcelona can do to move past it.
“We just have to cross our fingers and hope that someone comes along with half of his ability,” the Brazilian told Yahoo. “That would already be enough.
“I will never get tired of eulogising Léo. He’s not just a great player; he’s a great person, a great human being. That’s the kind of thing we must never tire of praising.”
The former two-time Ballon d’Or winner then discussed Messi’s ability to improve with every game and that the Argentine international deserves respect.
“And when he gets on that field… well then we could end speaking for a whole year about Messi. He evolves with every game. Léo is a living legend and we must treat him with so much respect.”
Barca travel to Italy on Tuesday evening to face AS Roma in the second leg of their Champions League quarter final tie, where they hold a 4-1 lead.
Ernesto Valverde’s side could face either Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid or Juventus in the semi-final stage if they beat Roma.