Fabregas has said Messi plans to retire at Barcelona
Leo Messi and Cesc Fabregas remained close after their time together at Barcelona. Carlos Barba/EPA.

Cesc Fabregas is “very confident” former team-mate Lionel Messi will retire at Barcelona, saying it “has always been” the Argentinian’s plan to finish his career as a one-club man.

The notion has long been that Messi would remain at Barcelona as long as he’s willing to stay, but talk of an exit is inevitably growing as he approaches the final year of his current contract.

Messi, 32, moved to Catalonia from Rosario as a youngster and came through Barcelona’s academy at the same time as Fabregas, who headed for Arsenal in 2003 before returning eight years later.

The 110-times capped Spain international—now at AS Monaco—told Cadena Cope that while things can change, his old friend has long wanted to hang up his boots at Barca:

"I speak with Messi, his idea has always been to end his career at Barcelona. Later a thousand things can happen at the club but I'm very confident that he will end his career at Barcelona.”

Fabregas and Messi are particularly close friends along with Luis Suarez. The former spoke to Goal in 2018 and was in no doubt that Messi has the capability to thrive wherever he goes:

The Blaugrana would likely be happy to accommodate their star if he is happy to remain at the club, having underlined his powers once again by winning a record sixth Ballon d’Or in December.

Legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed in 2014 that he had attempted to sign a teenage Messi—along with Gerard Pique—when the club concluded their deal for Fabregas, via Hayters TV:

Former Barcelona vice-president Emili Rousaud recently told ESPN Deportes he would be “very surprised” if Messi didn’t renew his current terms at the Camp Nou.

It’s not the first time the veteran has ventured towards the final year of his contract at the club. However, next season will be his 17th at the club, and there’s a special significance to his next contract considering there’s a chance it may be his last while at the peak of his powers.