The Italian, who recently took over as the Catalans’ sporting director, says a transfer cannot be ruled out due to the player’s buyout clause
Lionel Messi could still leave Barcelona, the club’s sporting director Ariedo Braida has admitted.
The 27-year-old has a contract with Barca until June 2018 but has a limited fee release clause of €250 million.
Messi was linked with a possible departure from Camp Nou earlier in the season as his relationship with head coach Luis Enrique deteriorated.
And while Braida remains confident the Argentina international will remain committed to Barca, he accepts that the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, backed by billionaire owners, could one day make an offer to meet the staggering release-clause fee.
“I think that it is nearly impossible to see Messi leave Barcelona, but it could happen with clubs like PSG and Manchester City around, who have a lot of money to spend,” Braida, who has replaced Andoni Zubizarreta at Barcelona, told Esport 3.
“Strange things happen every now and then.
“Messi is not simply a footballer. He is a phenomenon, an extraterrestrial. He is up there with Pele and Diego Maradona.
“He has incredible speed and takes aim at goal in an impressive way.”
Braida was general director at AC Milan for 28 years and recently joined a new technical committee at Barca to help oversee planning for the first team, with former sporting director Zubizarreta dismissed after a trophyless campaign and question marks over his transfer policy.
The 68-year-old has now claimed he came close to coaching the four-time Ballon d’Or winner during his time at San Siro.
“Did I try to sign Messi for Milan in the past? I got a call from someone when he was still a little kid and tried to sign him.
“I have 30 years’ worth of contacts and know a lot of people around the world.”
Messi made his official first-team debut at Barcelona in 2004-05 and has since developed into one of the best players in the history of the game.
The Argentina international is Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer as well as in La Liga and Champions League.