Former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o says the Catalan giants will have to change the club’s name should Lionel Messi depart.
Messi was part of the squad that crashed out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage in Lisbon after suffering an 8-2 hammering by Bayern Munich.
That result – and the club’s problems off the pitch – have reportedly made Messi consider his future at the club, given it was Barca’s biggest European defeat in history and their most substantial loss since 1946.
Eto’o believes Messi’s departure would be catastrophic for the club and claims their identity comes from the 33-year-old.
“I love Messi like he was my own son, I want the best for him. Barcelona is Messi, and I think if Messi decides to leave, we’ll have to change the name of the club,’ Eto’o told Argentine TV channel TyCSports.
“We are lucky in that at Barcelona, we have the best player in the world and of all-time, we have to do everything possible to ensure he finishes his career at Barcelona.’
Messi has spent 12 months battling club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the Nou Camp hierarchy regarding the direction the club is currently heading.
The Argentinian has a year left on his contract but may be open to new opportunities as reports suggest he has grown ‘frustrated’ with Barcelona’s lack of performance and planning.
Their 8-2 defeat by Bayern could be the final straw, with Eto’o claiming he even struggled to come to terms with the result.
“I really suffered myself with that defeat, not just for Leo, but for all of the lads,’ he said.
“Someone who has never played the game will find it hard to understand, but these things exist in football – and in life too.
“Anyone can suffer a fall, but you have to get up again, and that is the most difficult part.
“The players, the bosses, the fans… I hope that we can lift ourselves up from this and begin to dream again for next season.’
Eto’o played for Barcelona between 2004 and 2009, winning eight trophies including three La Liga crowns and two Champions Leagues.
Culled from dailymail.co.uk