Former Bulgarian striker Hristo Stoichkov has given his opinion on Lionel Messi’s situation at Barcelona.
Last summer, Messi shook the world of football by announcing his desire to leave Barcelona – the club he had been at since his youth team days.
However, after a long-running feud with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, the Argentine stayed at Camp Nou.
Since then, a lot has changed at the club. Bartomeu resigned and was replaced by Joan Laporta, who has vowed to make keeping Messi his number one priority. However, it is unclear whether this will change his stance.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is out of contract in the summer and is supposedly being eyed up by Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.
Barcelona legend Hristo Stoichkov has weighed in on the matter, claiming that no one at the club will change Messi’s mind if he is set on leaving.
Speaking to Goal, the Bulgarian said: “Nobody is going to be able to convince Messi of anything if he is clear about what to do. I will always support the decision Leo (Messi) makes, and [Joan] Laporta has done it too.”
He continued to speak of the history that Laporta has at the Camp Nou and the immense task that he has to rebuild the club following their recent struggles.
The Spaniard was the club’s president from 2003-2010, overseeing two Champions League wins and four league titles.
Although, Stoichkov suspects that the quality of the players at his disposal had something to do with it.
“It is true that Laporta had a brilliant time at Barca,” added Stoichkov. “He has made big decisions, like trusting [Pep] Guardiola, and that established a time when great football was played, excellent and mature.
“But today, you don’t have Xavi or [Andres] Iniesta or Deco or Ronaldinho or Eto’o or those who made it possible.
“This was a team born to win, and that must be assumed. You have other types of players. You have a generation of the future, but that is not going to give you the maximum of its possibilities from today to tomorrow. And that’s what Messi must believe in, and Laporta must convince him.”
Stoichkov had two spells at Barcelona during his playing career, separated by one season at Parma. During that time, he won five La Liga titles and a European Cup.
The former forward played alongside current Blaugrana boss Ronald Koeman and maintains a friendship with the Dutchman. He believes in his former teammate and has been impressed with the young talent coming through at Camp Nou.
“I believe a lot in Ronald [Koeman],” he said. “We are great friends. And it is true that there is a lot of talent in Barcelona. People like [Marc-Andre] Ter Stegen, [Gerard] Pique, [Jordi] Alba, [Sergio] Busquets, Leo himself have to do what they did with me: help young people and work with them.
“After many years you have Pedri, Ansu Fati, [Ronald] Araujo, [Oscar] Mingueza, Riqui Puig. And Barca has a lot with them. They have them today, but they are going to grow a lot. I tell Pedri that.”