Exclusive interview with lionel Messi

Messi on Neymar: I wanted him to come and not just for the sporting level but also for the club level.

Last season was not as great of a season on a collective level, however on an individual level, you achieved incredible numbers and you are the big favorite to win the Balon de Oro. How do you balance that out?

Messi: It was not a great year for how it ended, but we had a great season until the last two games. Our elimination from the Champions made our entire season look bad, when we did a very good job. We were close to achieving the treble but that game ruined it all. After that, playing in the final of the Copa del Rey was difficult. In the second half, we played good but we gave it away in the first half. Of course, It looks like a ”bad season” because we only won LaLiga. We did not achieve our goals.

How do you feel about your injury?
Messi:
I feel better. It was very bad because it happened the first day and at first it looked to be something minor but in reality I have been out of action for the past 15 days now. Now, I know what it is and I feel more at ease. I will return when I feel I have completely recovered.

Will you be back soon? Will you play against Valencia?
Messi:
No. I am still training on my won and I do not have a fixed date of my return. I will do tests and when we see that I am 100% fit, I will be ready. I won’t play against Valencia. We will see if I will be fit in time to be with the team in Dortmund.

Would you rather win the Champions League but lose LaLiga this year?
Messi:
No. When we start the season we always tell ourselves we want to win everything and try our best to achieve it all. I hope we can settle in quickly. We want to win every title. This year will be marker to show how we perform. We would like to win the Champions because it has been quite some time since we last won it and I think we as a club must win the Champions again. I would love to win another one but I would not choose one or the other. I want to win both of them.

How do you value the squad? Is it better than last year?
Messi:
I don’t know if it is better or not. Last year, we had a very good squad as well. It is true that very important players have arrieved adn that now we have a bigger depth in terms of having many players in the midfield and the attack. But next year will tell us if our squad has improved or not, depending on what we achieve.

Would you have wanted Neymar to return?
Messi:
Honestly, yes. I would have loved to have Neymar back. I understand those people against his return. It is normal because of everything that happened with Neymar and for how he left. But thinking about it on a sporting level, I personally think Neymar is one of the best players in the world and to have him back could have increased our chances of reaching our objectives. But, at the end it did not happen and we have to think only on the squad we have now and focus on our goals.

Do you think Barcelona did everything possible to sign him?
Messi: I don’t know. I did not have much information about it.

Did you follow everything closely?
Messi:
Yes, obviously because I wanted him to come and not just for the sporting level but also for the club level.

Are you upset?
Messi:
No. I would have liked for him to return but I think we have a spectacular team and can achieve everything without him.

There were talks that the team did not want Griezmann. Have you had the opportunity to meet him?
Messi:
Very little. Since I have arrived, I have been injured and training on my own. I am not really with the group. They went on tour and when they returned I didn’t really talk much with the team, because we train separately. But we will have the chance to talk.

Pique and Suarez have expressed that they are not very happy with Dembele’s professionalism. How do you view him?
Messi:
He is an impressive talent that can do whatever he wants. He is very young and I think this year will be very important for him to make that jump to make that change and become professional and reach his best level, because that is what Barcelona want. Hopefully, he will not have bad luck like he did the past two years with injuries. Last year he was injured when we needed him the most. As a player, he is very impressive.

After the bad end to the season, there were rumors of Valverde’s sacking. Did you fear he would get sacked?
Messi:
When these things happen, everyone thinks the worst because we couldn’t achieve our goals and even more because of what happened the year before. I think it was our fault and the coaching staff had nothing to do with the way we played. We had a great season until then. It was more us than the coach.

The other day, Bartomeu said that according to your contract you can leave for free at the end of the season. Is that true?
Messi:
I cannot confirm anything because I have a confidential clause and if I spoke about this I would be terminating that clause. But what I can say is that I want to be in Barcelona as much as possible because it is my home. But I also don’t want to have a long-term contract and only stay because of it. I want to be physically in top shape play and be an important player and also have a squad that can win trophies. I want to continue winning important things with the club. I do not care at all about the clauses or the money. I have said it many times, that I move for other things. The most important is to have a winning team.

So, your idea is to renew your contract year by year depending on how you feel?
Messi
: My idea is to continue here for as long as I see that I can perform well and that I am physically in top shape. Regarding the contract, it is not something that worries me and I am also not in charge of it. It is something my father talks about with the president and I share my thoughts.

The key condition for you is to have a winning team?
Messi: Obviously, I want to win with this club. This is my home and I have no intention of moving anywhere else, but I want to continue winning.

Cristiano recently invited you to go out and have dinner together. Do you accept his invitation?
Messi: Yes, I have no problem. I have said multiple times that we might not be friends because we have never shared a team. I always see him at the award shows. I don’t know if there will be a dinner because it is difficult to cross paths for obvious reasons. We both have our commitments, but obviously I accept that dinner.

Diario Sports

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