Potential presidential candidate says "departure must be as friendly as possible" and hopes for future role for Messi at Barcelona
Barcelona presidential hopeful Victor Font says it seems unlikely Lionel Messi will change his mind about leaving the club.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports, Font - the man who hopes to take over from current president Josep Bartomeu - stated his belief while there is hope, the likely outcome is that the player will leave.
Messi now considers himself to be 'on strike' and Barcelona have fined him for failing to report for training on Monday and Tuesday, as the Argentine no longer considers himself a part of Ronald Koeman's squad.
Font says the player's exit must now be made "as smooth as possible" and that he hopes Messi will return to the club for a role in the future.
When asked if Messi would stay at Barcelona, Font said: "That's the hope, right? Until it's over there is always hope. And therefore I really hope the decision can be changed.
"It doesn't seem likely, though, and therefore if that's the case, the focus should be on making the transition as smooth as possible.
"And the ties between Messi and Barcelona that go very deep, remain there, so we can ensure somehow, the relationship continues in the future."
There has been a "deafening silence" from the majority of the Barcelona squad since Lionel Messi handed in a transfer request.
Barcelona consider Messi to be on strike and have fined him for failing to report for training on Monday and Tuesday, but the Argentine no longer considers himself a part of Ronald Koeman's squad.
There has been a deafening silence from most of Koeman's playing staff regarding Messi's situation, with the possible exception of Luis Suarez - whose future at the club remains unclear - and Arturo Vidal, who is in a similar position.
What is the situation with Messi's buy-out clause?
Messi had, for a while at least, believed he could walk away from Barcelona on a free transfer by exercising a clause in his contract which stipulated he could leave at the end of every season without a single Euro being paid to the club
Even though the deadline to exercise the clause has passed, Messi's lawyers believe Barcelona should honour it as the season had to be extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, La Liga has bolstered Barcelona's stance, with the club insisting the clause has expired and the only way Messi will be allowed to leave is if his €700m release clause is paid in full.