Ariedo Braida does not expect the iconic Argentine to depart Camp Nou but admits nothing can be ruled out amid renewed transfer talk
Former Barcelona director Ariedo Braida admits a move away for Lionel Messi is unlikely, but concedes that “anything is possible in football” as Inter continue to be linked with an audacious approach for the Argentine.
Questions are once again being asked of how long a six-time Ballon d’Or winner will be sticking around at Camp Nou.
An all-time great has started to air his frustration at the direction in which Barca are heading on and off the field, with contract extension talks said to have been shelved as a result.
That uncertainty in Catalunya has piqued the interest of Serie A giants Inter, with the Italians having seen a move for Messi mooted on a regular basis down the years.
Braida, who worked as director of sport and chief scout at Camp Nou between 2015 and 2019 having previously spent many years at AC Milan, would be amazed if Messi were to be prised from Barca’s clutches given he has spent his entire senior career to date in one place.
There is, however, an outside chance of a deal being done and that is keeping things interesting.
Braida told Radio Kiss Kiss: “Considering the way I know Messi, it’s unlikely he will leave Barcelona, as he’s like a king there, loved by the entire city.
“I would not rule it out completely, because anything is possible in football. He’s a magical player, because he can invent something out of nowhere at any moment. Someone like him is born once every 30 years.
“Messi is the kind of player like Diego Maradona who makes you fall in love with football. I did try to bring Maradona to Milan, and I think Diego would’ve found us to be the ideal team for him.”
Barca are currently readying themselves for the second leg of a Champions League last-16 encounter with Napoli that is locked at 1-1 on aggregate.
Braida is expecting a competitive contest at Camp Nou on Saturday, with it difficult to pick a winner from two ambitious outfits.
He added: “I saw Napoli play pretty well lately and they are ready to take on Barcelona.
“Gennaro Gattuso must prepare the team physically to be in very good shape, but above all tactically, because you need great discipline against Barca.
“They have Messi, so to limit his space, you have to stay tight and move in a synchronised way. It is an advantage for Napoli that this’ll be played behind closed doors.
“Even if Barcelona are missing Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal and Arthur, it’s still a competitive midfield. They could field Riqui Puig, who is like a little Roberto Baggio and has incredible talent.
“Gattuso doesn’t need my advice, just a little pinch of good luck.”