Messi’s last Clasico? Barcelona optimistic he will play ‘many more’
Barcelona are optimistic Lionel Messi has not played in El Clasico for the last time.
Messi and Barca suffered frustration on Saturday as they fell to a 2-1 defeat away to fierce rivals Real Madrid.
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It dented their hopes of La Liga glory, though they remain in a fiercely competitive title race with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, having tried to leave the club in 2020 after a fallout with ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The 33-year-old has been strongly linked with a free transfer move to Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.
Barcelona director Guillermo Amor was asked after the match if Messi had played in world football’s biggest match for the last time.
He expressed hope the forward would remain with Barca following the recent return of Joan Laporta as president.
Amor urged the Barcelona players to shake off their loss ahead of the Copa del Rey final with Athletic Bilbao next week.
Asked if it was Messi’s last Clasico, Amor said to Movistar: “We hope not.
“We hope he decides to stay at Barcelona and plays many more Clasicos with Barcelona.
“We now have to focus on the next game, which is very important.
“It is a chance to win a trophy.
“We should have at least had a draw.
“But La Liga is far from over – we are there with a minimal difference in points and there are eight games left.”
Messi on a Clasico goal drought
Messi has scored 26 times against Real Madrid in his illustrious Barcelona career.
But his side suffered a third straight loss to their rivals courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos.
Defender Oscar Mingueza scored the only goal for Barca, who were furious not to receive a late penalty.
Messi racked up a game-high seven shots, but five of those were blocked and the attacker has now gone seven Clasicos without scoring.
His last strike against in the fixture came in May 2018, when Cristiano Ronaldo was still playing for Real Madrid.
How much will Messi and Barca’s recent poor Clasico run play a part in whether he stays or goes?
If it was his last Clasico, that is not how Messi would have wanted to bow out.
For Messi and Barca this season, though, two trophies remain in play.