Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink admits the prospect of seeing Barcelona legend Lionel Messi in another club's colours is unthinkable and should not happen.
Messi has gone on strike at Barca after reportedly missing the club's Covid-19 testing schedule and skipping training.
The Argentine superstar informed the Spanish giants last week that he wanted to leave the Nou Camp - and has instructed his agents to enact a clause in his contract that would allow him to walk out for nothing.
But Barca bosses have refused to budge in a bid to keep him where he is - and insists his £623m release clause remains active.
Manchester City are desperate to take advantage of Messi's determination to leave the Catalan outfit and lure him to the Etihad to be reunited with Pep Guardiola.
The saga promises to dominate the headlines in the coming weeks, but former Chelsea and Leeds star Hasselbaink believes Barca would be mad to let Messi go.
Hasselbaink reckons Messi is the face of the club and he told GentingBet: "Messi is Barcelona and as Barcelona, you don't let Messi go. Especially after what he has done.
"Of course every player comes to an end but I think Messi should come to an end at Barcelona. You could understand if he says, 'okay, guys, I want to go back to Argentina and I'm going to play for my boyhood club'.
"What you can't have is Messi going to Inter Milan or Manchester City like this. That's what I find a little bit strange!
"Messi, from 13 years-old, started at Barcelona. And the amount that he has won at Barcelona - he is the face of the club - he shouldn't have the badge of another club on him."
Hasselbaink, who scored 69 goals in 136 appearances for Chelsea, believes his old club are making good progress under Frank Lampard.
But despite Lampard investing heavily this summer on new signings including Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, Hasselbaink believes he will still need more time and resources to challenge for the title.
He added: "Having spent considerably on players and with last season under his belt, the expectation on Frank this season is going to be totally different.
"But you have to be realistic. That's where we go wrong a little in football, you have to be realistic. You still have to give him the room of not having to be Champions straightaway because you don't build a team in one year - it takes time.
"So actually last year was not about building, it was about surviving. Now the building has started and you have to give it time. So, if they can get closer and make the gap significantly smaller, it's been a successful season."
To read the full interview with Hasselbaink go here.