Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova says Lionel Messi is on the way to becoming the best player of all time, and has revealed that everyone at the club hopes he will end his career there.
Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell confirmed this week that the Catalan side is planning to offer the Argentina international a new contract, despite his current deal running until 2016. And club trainer Vilanova has echoed the desire to keep Messi with the Liga giant for the foreseeable future.
"He is the best in the world. If he is not already the best in history, he will end up being so," the 44-year-old told a press conference. "To all at Barca it would be a joy to have him end his career here. You will not see a player like Messi again."
The former Celta player also denied suggestions that he has one eye on the upcoming Clasico on Oct. 7, saying Saturday's home clash with Granada is the only thing occupying his thoughts.
"I am not thinking about the Clasico," said the former Barcelona B midfielder. "What concerns me is reaching 15 points from a possible 15 this weekend.
"It has not been done many times in history. In my head there is only Granada, Granada and Granada. It's like you [reporters] asking me about the game in Madrid in the second round of fixtures.
"Against Granada, the incentive is to win, not to think that we move 11 points ahead of Madrid. As it is not up to us, it is not worth wasting time. I have seen games of Granada's and they are organized and do very well on the counterattack."
Vilanova also intimated that he was undecided as to who would play in central defense in the clash, with Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique both absent through injury. Talented youngster Marc Bartra could instead get the nod, while Alex Song is also in consideration.
"Tomorrow I will decide who plays. If [Marc] Bartra is in the first team it is because he has the ability," said the Barca coach. Marc will get games, but the season has only just begun. Bartra is in the first team because he deserves it, not because his contract may say so.
"Song can also be brought in to play at center back. He has many levels. He fits perfectly and can also play in defense. I was surprised because he understands everything I explain to him first time," he added.
Follow GOAL.COM on Twitter