Marc-Andre ter Stegen insists Lionel Messi has earned the right to decide his Barcelona future amid fears he could leave next summer.
Messi, who has spent his entire club career at Barcelona, raised the alarms bells over his future by suggesting he could move on. It comes following the revelation that he can walk out of Camp Nou at the end of the season for free.
During his interview with Sport this week, the 32-year-old expressed a need to see a winning team at Barcelona. He was likely referencing the club’s successive failures in the Champions League, with Messi having not won the tournament since 2015.
He did, though, offer supporters hope over his future by confirming that the current plan is to remain a Blaugrana player.
But Ter Stegen is refusing to panic over Messi’s comments, and he believes the skipper is happy in Catalonia.
“[Messi] deserves to choose his own future,” the German goalkeeper told reporters on Thursday.
“The easiest thing is for us to tell him to stay because he’s a key player for us and his level is so high.
“I’m convinced he’s really happy in the team, at the club and in the city. It’s hard for him to move.
“Personally, I want him to stay, but I don’t decide. We’re going to tell him to stay and we hope he does.”
Messi’s remarks on the Neymar transfer saga also stirred up a few headlines, with the Argentine stating: “Honestly, I don’t know if Barça did everything they could to make his return happen.”
When asked on this, Ter Stegen replied: “It is a question that is currently difficult to answer.
“Neymar is a spectacular player, he spent many years with us and took another step.
“Now nothing can be changed. The club has tried what it could. We are delighted to have the best players in the squad. I’m happy with the team we have.”