Former Barcelona coach Luiz Enrique insists the Catalan giants ‘will continue to win titles’ without Lionel Messi.
Messi had been at war with Barcelona as he attempted to push through a move to Manchester City to secure a reunion with Pep Guardiola.
But with LaLiga and club president sticking to the idea Messi had no legal ground to stand on due to the €700million (£630m) release clause in his contract, the 33-year-old begrudgingly confirmed he will now remain at the club.
And speaking ahead of Spain’s UEFA Nations League tie against Ukraine, Enrique who led Barcelona to the treble in 2015 said:”I think the clubs are above all people, players and presidents. Barcelona, founded in 1899, is one of the best in the world. They have always won titles.
“It is evident that there has been a wonderful relationship. Leo has made Barca grow exponentially but I would have liked it if a much more friendly agreement had been reached.
“Sooner or later, Messi will stop playing at Barca. Barcelona will continue to win titles without Messi and Messi will continue to be a wonderful footballer.”
Messi had simply had enough of his current situation after the club’s 8-2 humiliation to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last month.
And after sending a burofax to the club’s president Josep Bartomeu, informing him of his desire to walk away from his contract for free, the club played hard-ball and have come out on top despite a dramatic back-and-forth on Friday.
Messi appeared to be willing to fight on Friday when his father Jorge issued a statement that appeared to quote directly from his contract stating: ‘The release clause will not apply after the end of the 2019-20 season.’
The statement criticised LaLiga for supporting Barcelona’s right to demand £630m for his sale and condemned the Spanish league’s ‘obvious lack of impartiality’.
But that was the last shot fired before the white flag was raised.
While Messi will now be part of the side used by Ronald Koeman for his first season in charge, Enrique is of the belief that Messi’s time at Barcelona is coming to an end.
And yet he believes the club will remain healthy and competitive across all competitions even when the Argentine has departed.