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'If it touches his heart to go, I would support him but I would love for him to stay in Barcelona'

Ronaldinho says that he’ll stand by Lionel Messi no matter where his future takes him.

Ronaldinho: 'As a close friend I always cheer for his happiness.'
Ronaldinho: 'As a close friend I always cheer for his happiness.'

RONALDINHO SAYS HE would back Lionel Messi if the Barcelona superstar decided to leave Camp Nou.

Messi agreed a new contract last summer but is yet to put pen-to-paper on a deal which would see him remain at Barca until 2021.

The four-time Ballon d’Or winner would be permitted to speak to other clubs over a free transfer as soon as January should he decline the Barca renewal on the table.

During the summer, the 30-year-old had been linked with a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Messi replaced Ronaldinho as Barca’s No 10 when the Brazilian icon left the club and the 2002 World Cup winner would support Messi’s decision either way.

“It’s hard for me to say because he’s a close friend,” Ronaldinho told Goal. “And as a close friend I always cheer for his happiness.

“If it touches his heart to go to another club – even though I am an ambassador for Barcelona – I would support him but I would love for him to stay in Barcelona.

“Wherever he plays he would make a difference for the game of football.”

Ronaldinho is an ambassador for Football for Peace, which is launching London as a City for Peace on Friday, 17 November at the inaugural Football for Peace ball.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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