Messi urges Guardiola stay
Barca superstar calls for coach to be handed new deal
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: January 13, 2011 8:09pm
Messi & Guardiola: Mutual respect
Lionel Messi is hoping Pep Guardiola will pen a new contract at Barcelona as he is key to the club's success.
Guardiola, a Camp Nou icon from his playing days, replaced Frank Rijkaard at the Barca helm in 2008/09.
Since then he has guided the club to eight major trophies, including the UEFA Champions League crown and back-to-back Primera Liga titles.
His importance to the side is not to be underestimated, with his value certainly not lost on his playing staff.
Mercurial playmaker Messi, fresh from picking up the Ballon d'Or, is fully aware of Guardiola's role at Barca and has urged the board to hand their coach a new deal.
He said: "The truth is, after everything he's created and how he's rallied the team around him, it's difficult to imagine. A Barcelona without him wouldn't be like it is.
"[I hope] he renews when he can, and stays."
Guardiola's current deal is set to expire at the end of the season and he insists he would prefer to continue working on one-year contracts so as to avoid becoming complacent.
"He's on top of us with all of the details, not only with me but with the whole squad," added Messi.
"He's always looking for the best positioning for me near the midfielders so that I can have as much contact with the ball as I can in play."
Messi has also sought to play down any suggestion that his recent crowning as Europe's best player, ahead of team-mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta, will have an adverse effect on squad harmony.
He said: "We know the relationship we have and how we get on. Everything's going to stay the same.
"I'm good with Andres, I'm good with Xavi. My relationship with both is very good and these awards are prizes for everyone - a trophy for the team."