BARCELONA legend Rivaldo believes the Lionel Messi transfer debacle could soon be forgotten – and he may stay there until he is nearly 40.
The Argentinean superstar rocked the Nou Camp by handing in a transfer request last month as he tried to invoke a clause to allow him to leave for free.
Now he is back training after a sensational U-turn from his position just a fortnight ago, when he missed all of new boss Ronald Koeman's first training sessions.
Messi demanded to leave Barcelona in the wake of the 8-2 Champions League exit to Bayern Munich, blasting the club's hierarchy and pointing to mismanagement of team-mates including close pal Luis Suarez.
He believed he still had a clause valid in his contract until the end of the season allowing him to depart Catalonia on a free transfer.
But Barcelona argued that the clause expired in July and were quickly given backing by LaLiga.
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It led to Messi confirming last week that he will be staying at the club for the final year of his contract, as the only way to press on with the potential free transfer was by taking Barcelona to court.
However, Rivaldo insists the whole sorry chapter could soon be forgotten about.
The Brazilian, who spent five years at Barca during his illustrious career, told BetFair: “I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed at the club beyond his current deal.
“A lot could happen this season, as Barcelona begin life under new manager Ronaldo Koeman and elections for club president take place in March.
“Messi criticised the current president Josep Bartomeu, so if a new president is elected in March perhaps Messi will decide to stay.
“Messi has his life in the city, his family enjoy living there and the fans have great affection for him.
“These are reasons to stay and perhaps with a new president, who understands Messi's needs and can persuade him that the club is heading in the right direction, can persuade him to extend his contract.
“He loves Barcelona, and nowadays players are fit enough to prolong their careers at the highest level, so I can see Messi playing for them until he's 38-years-old.”
And when quizzed on whether the goal-machine will still be as prolific as usual this term following the saga, Rivaldo had no doubts he will be as good as ever.
He added: “Many people are questioning Messi's commitment after asking to leave the club, but I have no doubt that he will be the same player this season, always trying his best for the club he loves.
“Of course, he might not start right away after all these problems during the summer, but even in his poorer seasons he scored 30-odd goals, so I'm sure he'll continue to make the difference for the team.”
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