If Lionel Messi decides to move on over the summer then Barcelona must “respect him and thank him for what he’s done”, says Emmanuel Amunike, with an all-time great having earned the right to dictate his own future.
He saw exits blocked off in Catalunya and eventually vowed to honour his contract, but speculation continues to rage regarding his next move as he heads towards free agency.
Messi could enter into talks with interested parties if he wished to do so, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain sniffing around, but he intends to shelve any discussions until the end of the season.
Barca have not given up hope on tying their talismanic captain to fresh terms, allowing him to prolong a career-long association with the club, but uncertainty reigns for now.
Amunike is reluctant to speculate on what could happen from this point, with a 33-year-old icon allowed to take his time after taking in a record-breaking spell with the Blaugrana.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” former Barca fromtman Amunike told Radio MARCA.
“The reality is that you have to thank Messi for everything he’s given to Barcelona. But everything has its beginning and end. He’s not as young as he was.
“But I’ll remember what Messi has done for the club. If Messi leaves, you have to respect him and thank him for what he’s done.”
Barca have rediscovered a spark of late, allowing them to climb La Liga and book a place in the Super Cup final, with Ronald Koeman overseeing a reversal in fortune.
Amunike moved to Camp Nou in 1996, shortly after a legendary Dutchman had departed, and he is pleased to see a man filling the most demanding of coaching posts starting to deliver on expectation.
The Nigerian added: “I’m happy for Koeman. It hasn’t been so easy for him.
“Now they’re in the final of the Supercopa de Espana and that will give the team more confidence.”
Barca will face Athletic Club in Seville on Sunday with major silverware on the line, with that contest offering Koeman an opportunity to open his trophy account as manager.