Messi only at Barcelona because he promised Vilanova, says Ten Cate

The Dutchman claims a transfer would be in the best interests of all parties despite the Argentine’s commitment to the former coach

Former Barcelona assistant coach Henk Ten Cate believes Lionel Messi would already have left the club were it not for a promise he made to Tito Vilanova.

Speculation has resurfaced that Messi is considering his future at Camp Nou due to a clash with head coach Luis Enrique and a turbulent few days for the club, which has seen Andoni Zubizarreta and Carles Puyol leave and the presidential elections brought forward to this summer.

The Argentina international enjoyed a close relationship with Vilanova – who passed away in April 2014 after a long battle against cancer – and Ten Cate has claims Messi is only still at Camp Nou after he told his old boss he would stay.

Nevertheless, the Dutchman feels it would be in everybody’s best interest if Messi left the club.

“As far as I know, these problems all started about two years ago. Messi is only still at Barcelona because he promised it to Tito Vilanova at his deathbed,” Ten Cate told De Telegraaf.

“But I think a transfer would be in everybody’s best interest. Lionel has been at Barcelona for quite a while and he needs a new challenge. He’s still worth a lot of money now, but his value will only go down from here on.

“I really want to be supportive, because he has been on another level for 10 years. But I’m not sure he will get back to his best.

“It isn’t normal to shine for 10 years like he has done. Most of the big names can only keep it up for seven or eight years. And to be honest, he wasn’t at his best either last season, even if his statistics were still great.”

Ten Cate was Frank Rijkaard’s assistant at the Catalans when Messi made his debut in the 2004-05 season