Having just been handed a lifetime contract at Barcelona, Spanish veteran Andres Iniesta also hopes that Lionel Messi's love affair with the Nou Camp "never ends" and that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner signs his long-awaited extension as soon as possible.

The issue of Messi's latest deal appeared to be a mere formality back in early July, when Barcelona confirmed that they had agreed to terms on a lucrative four-year renewal through 2021 that was scheduled to be signed when the player returned to Catalonia for pre-season training.

However, three months have now passed without the Argentine officially putting pen to paper and the situation is causing much consternation among supporters, with Messi's current agreement due to expire next summer.

Such a delay has led to whispers over the long-term future of the global superstar, who could theoretically sign a pre-contract agreement with another club as soon as January.

Barcelona have been understandably eager to allay any fears over the exit of another high-profile talent following Neymar's world-record switch to Paris Saint-Germain, with oft-maligned president Josep Maria Bartomeu recently insisting that the proposed contract – said to contain a release clause worth an eye-watering €300m (£269.5m, $351.7m) – had already been signed by Messi's father, Jorge.

He added that the 30-year-old was already playing under the new deal and expressed hope that a photo of him signing it could be sorted before the end of the year.

Speaking at a press conference that followed Friday's (6 October) confirmation that he will spend the rest of his own illustrious career at Barcelona, Iniesta told reporters: "In Leo's situation I think that dialogue is something that is not lacking.

"The club wants Leo to be here, he wants to be here. I hope that his story [at Barca] never ends. He is unique, we can't live without him and I think the club thinks the same way. It's just a question of time, but I hope he renews as soon as possible."

Messi has already notched 14 goals in 11 appearances for Barcelona so far this term to help Ernesto Valverde's men win each of their first seven La Liga contests and establish an early five-point buffer at the summit of the table. They also sit pretty at the top of Champions League Group D after consecutive victories over Juventus and Sporting CP.

Things are not looking quite so rosy on the international front, however, with Argentina now in serious danger of missing out on World Cup qualification for the first time since 1970.

Following a goalless draw against Peru at Buenos Aires' atmospheric La Bombonera stadium on Thursday, in which Messi struck the woodwork, La Albiceleste lie sixth in the Conmebol standings. They must beat Ecuador in their final qualifier in Quito next week in order to secure at least a two-legged play-off tie against Oceania winners New Zealand.

Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta hopes Barcelona are able to come to an agreement with Lionel Messi as soon as possible