Reports have emerged that former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova persuaded Lionel Messi to sign a new deal at the Catalan giants just days before he passed away.
The Argentine has been at Barca since the age of 13, and after a difficult season where the club came close but in the end failed to secure any title under the guidance of Tata Martino, leading some to believe that Messi’s time at the Camp Nou was up.
Interest had surfaced with reports alleging that Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were ready to make huge eight figure bids in order to persuade Barca to sell, only for the 26-year-old to agree to a contract extension which sees him stay at the club until at least June 2019.
According to El Periodico and TV3, it was Vilanova who finally convinced Messi to put pen to paper in a new deal for the club, after being told by the Argentina international that he wished to leave the club.
The former Barcelona manager was heavily involved in Messi’s development at La Masia since his arrival in Catalunya, and the former Newell’s Old Boys youth player repaid the club’s faith by helping them to 21 major titles.
A few days after the alleged meeting, Vilanova tragically lost his battle with cancer, and Messi announced his contract renewal less than a month later, giving us one final reminder of just how committed to the Blaugrana Tito really was.