Messi says Barca 'my life' but stays tight-lipped on future
Madrid (AFP) –
Lionel Messi remained coy on his future at Barcelona in a long interview broadcast on Sunday in which he called the Catalan giants "my life".
Speaking to Spanish TV channel La Sexta, Messi insisted that he was "excited" to play under coach Ronald Koeman this season despite trying to leave the club where he has played his entire senior career last summer.
He said that at the time he felt like he "needed a change", but his attempted exit was blocked amid a spat with former Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Messi's contract expires at the end of the season and from next month he will be free to negotiate a move away from Catalonia.
"Barca is my life, I'm in love with the club. And the city, my children were born here," Messi said in an interview conducted earlier this month.
"It's true I had a bad time in the summer. It came from everything that happened before the summer, how the season ended, the burofax (how Messi communicated his desire to leave), all of that.
"I carried that into the start of the season a little bit."
Bartomeu stepped down in October and a new Barcelona president will be elected on January 24, after which 33-year-old Messi is expected to begin talks over whether to extend his career-long stay.
"I feel good right now, ready to fight for everything. I feel excited," he said.
- Barca situation 'really bad' -
Messi said he is under no illusions over the position Barca find themselves in, with the financial problems exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic likely to hamper player recruitment.
"I know the club is going through a difficult period and that makes everything surrounding Barcelona difficult, but I am motivated," he said.
He described Barca's situation as "really bad" and poured scorn on the idea that Neymar could make a shock return to Catalonia.
"To do that you need money, and there is no money. Neymar would cost a lot," Messi said.
Much of the talk surrounding Messi's departure centred around the possibility he might reunite with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, although there are also reports of him potentially lining up alongside Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues in his four seasons under Guardiola, and was full of praise for his former boss.
"Pep has something special. He makes you see things in one way: how he prepares for matches, defensively, how to attack," he said.
"He told you exactly how the match was going to be, how you had to attack to win."
© 2020 AFP