Lionel Messi’s former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, now the boss of Spain, suggested on Saturday the club should have allowed the Argentina forward to leave.
“It’s a sensitive issue,” said Luis Enrique, ahead of Spain’s game against Ukraine on Sunday.
“I think clubs are above every player. Barcelona was founded in 1899 and is one of the best in the world, it has won titles forever.
“Clearly there has been a wonderful relationship. Leo has made Barca grow exponentially but I would have liked it a lot more if an agreement had been reached.”
Luis Enrique managed Messi at Barca from 2014 to 2017 and they won the treble together in 2015.
He added: “Sooner or later Messi will stop playing at Barca. The club will continue to win titles without Messi just as Messi will continue to be wonderful for many years if he leaves.”
Messi’s grudging acceptance that he will have to stay put after losing his stand-off with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu means his long-term future is still in doubt.
The 33-year-old was absent from training on Saturday.