LIONEL MESSI is inadvertently pushing Andres Iniesta towards a Barcelona exit.
The duo are close friends having spent their entire professional careers at the Nou Camp.
However, Iniesta – who looks destined to leave the club this summer – doesn’t want to stay in Catalonia because of his old pal.
Spanish media outlet Don Balon say Iniesta is concerned that Barca don’t have a post-Messi plan.
The La Liga pace setters have been more reliant than ever on their talisman this term.
He’s bagged 26 top-flight goals this season as Barcelona run away with the league.
But Iniesta is concerned their isn’t a clear succession plan for when Messi hangs up his boots.
Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague claims Messi – having signed a lucrative new contract last year – will look to play for boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys again before retiring.
Balague said: “He wanted to see if the club itself was on board with the idea of keep winning things, and to do so spend the money for it.
“(Ousmane) Dembele comes in, even though he’s been injured, Valverde is doing well, Iniesta gets renewed and he felt himself it’s the right time to sign this contract himself, even though his dad had already done so.
“So the buyout clause has gone from €300million to €700million.
“He says he never thought of leaving but we know at some point it crossed his mind ‘shall I try something else?’.
“It didn’t go any further than that, he knew of the interest of others.
“But now he will be at Barcelona for the rest of his career apart from when he goes back to play for Newells Old Boys, which he wants to do in the first division of Argentina.”