Former FC Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova convinced Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona just six days before his tragic death, according to the Spaniard’s former assistant.
Messi’s feature was up in the air at the time as Barça were enduring a difficult season, but Vilanova, who left before the start of the campaign owing to ill-health, told him to remain at the Camp Nou.
Vilanova’s ex-assistant at Barcelona Jordi Roura made the revelation in an interview on the ‘Sin Concesiones’ programme broadcast by Radio Kanal Barcelona.
Speaking about a meeting Vilanova had with Messi six days before his death from cancer, Roura said: “It’s true that Leo wasn’t sure if he was going to stay at Barcelona. It’s true that meeting took place. I wasn’t there, they were there for many hours speaking and it’s also true that I don’t know what was said”.
“What’s for sure is that Messi changed his outlook, and fortunately for everything Barcelona, Messi decided to stay here”, Roura added.
Thursday marks five years since Vilanova passed away and the Barcelona star has led the tributes to the man who won the title in his only year in charge at the Nou Camp.
Vilanova was assistant to Pep Guardiola at the Nou Camp and succeed the now Manchester City manager in 2012.
Vilanova won 34 of his 45 games in charge of the Catalans en route to regaining the La Liga title before resigning on medical grounds. “Always with us”, said Messi on his Instagram.