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De Jong hoping for Messi to stay at Barcelona

De Jong, Messi
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Frenkie De Jong insists Lionel Messi is still the best in the world and has called on the Barcelona captain to stay put at the club.

Frenkie de Jong considers Lionel Messi to be “still the best player by far” at Barcelona and hopes a team-mate that he sees being “happy” at Camp Nou will soon commit to a new contract.

The 2020-21 campaign, which started with a six-time Ballon d’Or winner making one push for the exits, has ended with no fresh terms being agreed with a mercurial presence in Catalunya.

Messi is still due to hit free agency, but an extended stay with the only club side he has represented in a remarkable senior career to date continues to be mooted.

De Jong is among those waiting on a positive update from an all-time great, with the Dutch midfielder telling NU of a talismanic team-mate: “I have the feeling he’s happy in Barcelona.

“I really hope he stays, because he helps us. He’s still the best player by far.”

Pressed on whether he has discussed the matter of Messi’s future with the man himself, De Jong added: “Saying that he should stay? No, not directly. But we talk about a lot of things.

“It’s special to play with him. When I was 12 years old, he was already the best in the world.

“If the positions are the same and I can choose between playing Messi or someone else, I always choose Messi. It would be foolish not to. He’s the best ever.”

While waiting on a big future call from Messi, De Jong is also among the interested observers keeping a close eye on two countrymen that are seeing summer moves mooted.

Quizzed on whether he could have more familiar faces alongside him next season, Netherlands international De Jong said: “Wijnaldum and Depay? It remains to be seen what they do.

“I don’t know how serious it is. And maybe I know, but then I don’t tell.”