Messi will be impossible to replace, says Barcelona president Bartomeu

By Sports Desk December 09, 2019

Barcelona will find it impossible to replace Lionel Messi, according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who added Pep Guardiola would always be welcome back at Camp Nou.

Messi followed up winning a record sixth Ballon d'Or by recording his 35th LaLiga hat-trick in Barca's 5-2 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

Despite spending big on Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong in the most recent transfer window, Barca are still heavily reliant on the 32-year-old, who has scored 14 goals from 15 appearances in all competitions this term.

Bartomeu has acknowledged Barca will find it extremely difficult to replace Messi whenever the forward calls time on his stay at the club, but outlined their intention to continue developing young talent from the famed La Masia academy. 

"We Barca fans have the good fortune to enjoy Messi every three days," Bartomeu, who plans to offer Messi a "lifetime contract" told Italian publication La Repubblica.

"Leo is impossible to replace and when he will be here no more, we will be forced to play differently. I cannot say that we are already preparing for post-Messi, but it is true that we have already decided to bet on young players for a long time.

"For now, what we have to do is not worry, but enjoy it. I would like to make him an annuity contract as we have already done with [Andres] Iniesta. He has earned the right to decide when to say enough is enough.

"As a footballer, Messi is number one and we will fully understand it only in a few years, because Leo has changed not only the history of Barca, but that of world football."

Bartomeu also confirmed Guardiola - who left Barca in 2012 after four trophy-laden seasons in charge before going on to coach Bayern Munich and now Manchester City, will always have a home at Barca, should he wish to return. 

"A possible return of Guardiola? It doesn't depend on me," he added. 

"It was Pep who decided to leave, but for him the doors of Barca are always open." 

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    That feat, for a country, which had long-standing political issues and an overbearing poverty problem, was immense.

    Now the rest of the Caribbean began to take note. Maybe now other islands could dare to dream.

    While Haiti’s football has ebbed and flowed and they have not quite gotten back to those heady heights, the moment was important.

    All of a sudden, the possibilities for Caribbean football were immense.

    But it took another 20 years before the Reggae Boyz were on a similar journey. For the first time, CONCACAF had more than the obligatory two spots that would go to Mexico and the United States.

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    In 1997, the Reggae Boyz were up against it. In the final round they were winless, until a series of three games, 1-0 wins over each of El Salvador, Canada, and Costa Rica.

    After finishing winless in the first four games of the final qualifying round, Jamaica recorded three 1–0 wins over El Salvador, Canada, and Costa Rica, giving them a chance at history.

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    But standing in their way was the mighty Mexico. Jamaica needed to avoid losing to a team they had lost to 6-0 earlier in those qualifiers. There was hope but it was slim.

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    Trinidad and Tobago, still with two of its legends, Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, in tow would take an ageing team, and prove the Caribbean were now becoming a force to be reckoned with.

    Until 2018 when Iceland made their World Cup bow, T&T were the smallest nation to ever play in the tournament.

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    The tiny twin-island republic had to play against a team, which had financial resources that would dwarf it.

    Things looked even more bleak for T&T after the first leg of the home-and-away tie on November 12, 2005, played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, ended 1-1.

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    Cristiano Ronaldo would have made Real Madrid favourites to overturn a first-leg deficit in their Champions League tie against Manchester City, according to Emmanuel Adebayor. 

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