Barcelona’s Sporting director Ramon Planes has described Lionel Messi as the most important player at the club.
He said the Spanish giants aim to build the team around the Argentine magician for the foreseeable future.
Messi, who is Barcelona’s all-time top scorer with 634 goals, is threatening to leave the Blaugrana this summer.
The 33-year-old reportedly submitted a transfer request on Tuesday, activating a clause which could enable him leave on a free transfer.
However, Planes said the club is bent on keeping Messi at Camp Nou and building the team around him.
“What’s happened has happened and our idea is to build a team around the most important player in the world,” Planes said, as quoted by the BBC.
“We want to build another winning cycle led by the best player in the world, the best in history.
“Barca and Leo are like a marriage, where both have given so much to each other, and have brought so much joy to the fans. I think the future is positive. I am an optimist.”
Messi is said to have grown frustrated by the lack of ambition at Barcelona in recent years.
The Catalan giants have failed to win the Champions League since 2015, while they ended last season without major silverware.
The final straw came when Barce were hammed 8-2 in the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League by Bayern Munich – a scoreline which led to renewed calls for club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign.
Messi, though, is currently contracted to Barcelona until 2021 and has a 700m euro buy-out clause.