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Lionel Messi talks his future, Neymar, Suarez, Griezmann, Bartomeu, Xavi, Guardiola

Udhav Arora

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After wait and build-up for weeks, LaSextaTV has finally released Lionel Messi’s interview in its entirety. The Spanish website kept releasing clips of the interview for weeks, speaking about his current attitude, coaches, and desire to win. Messi’s words do not seem to have a lot of context in these clips, but all has been cleared now.

Messi covers a plethora of topics in this interview, starting from the disastrous end to the previous season, Josep Bartomeu, his teammates, Ronald Koeman, and more importantly his future at Barcelona.

On his love for football and Barcelona

“When I was a kid, I always wished for something related to football on Christmas. A jersey, a ball, shoes — anything. My parents did everything they could to make me happy.”

He continues on the same beat of the drum, speaking in high regard about Barcelona, the club where who bet on him nearly two decades ago.

“I love Barcelona. It is my life. I have a love story with Barça. They gave me everything. I have lived here for longer than in Argentina.”

Messi’s love for the crest is undoubted. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

“When I first came to Barcelona, I was already shy, but I became even shyer. I became a shell. I focused on training, school, and my matches.”

Messi’s words take a contrast as he speaks about how the season has gone for the club and for him:

“Today I feel okay. It took me a while before I started to feel well. I am eager to fight for the titles that we compete for.”

“It is going to be hard to reach where we once were, the club are in a difficult situation. It is difficult for everyone.”

Messi was asked if he had cried recently, given the how the season ended, and how things have gone from there, especially during the summer when rumours of his exit filled the air like pollution.

“I don’t bother with everything that people say, everyone has their own opinions.”

“I have suffered a lot on the football side of things lately, but I did not cry because of sports issues. I cried because of other issues, but I prefer not to go into the details.”

He carries with the same context, saying, “A lot of people talk without knowing the facts. People believe them because they are the ones who bring the news on TV and the papers. RMC for example is a media-outlet who spread a lot of fake news.”

On his family

Messi is interviewed about his family, as well, who the Argentine spoke about in length about what they had gone through during the summer when an exit was looming large. First, he speaks about his father:

“When I and my father stayed along here, he told me, ‘Decide what you want, stay here, and go for your dream — or go back to your life in Argentina.’ I was clear that I wanted to stay here.”

When asked about how he was spending time with his kids, Leo says, “I like being with them. I like it when they ask me to play football or play something related to sports. I like it when they ask me to shower with them, or sleep together with me.”

“Thiago is shy. He does not like everyone talking to him, but he gets used to it. Mateo handles it a lot better. He loves all the attention.”

Being the kids of the the greatest footballer of all time must be hard, which is what Messi says when asked about if they complain about teachers who get too close to them for him (Messi). He says, “Yes, they do. It bothers Thiago a lot since he is a shy kid and doesn’t like these things.”

He then says, “My kids are addicted to watching YouTube, and using the iPad and TV.”

After speaking about his current situation with his immediate family, Leo is asked about his upbringing and if he was poor growing up.

“We weren’t poor, but the middle class. We lived well, but not in luxury.”

On Diego Maradona and his untimely demise

Where were you when you heard about Maradona’s death?

“I was at home… My father told me, and then I saw the news on TV.”

“I couldn’t believe Maradona’s death.”

Where did you get the Maradona shirt from which you were wearing during your tribute to him?

“I was gifted it by people at The Old Boys.”

A celebration to remember. (Photo by J. BASSA/AFP via Getty Images)

Maradona was a supporter of Fidel Castro and others, right?

“I don’t want to go into politics.”

“I want the best for my country. I don’t like to talk about politics, but I would like things to improve. I want people to be happy.”

On Josep Bartomeu, the Bayern game, and the transfer saga

Barcelona were demolished 8-2 in the UEFA Champions League against Bayern Munich. It was a historic game for a lot of reasons, but for Barcelona, as Gerard Pique described it, it was rock bottom. Messi speaks about the game, saying:

“The 2-8 was a horrible game for everyone. We knew it would be a complicated game; we came from a bad run, but you never imagine this result.”

“I’m someone who doesn’t like to lose. After a loss, I say or do things as a result of anger, but then I regret everything I said or did.”

The topic of Josep Bartomeu starts on a rather informal note, where Messi reveals that the dressing room often referred to the president as ‘Nobita’ – a famous anime character from Japanese children’s show ‘Doraemon.’

“I never made jokes to Bartomeu about Nobita (cartoon character), but there were some who did (laughs).”

He then shifts it to what happened in the summer, with regard to how the Bartomeu blocked Messi’s transfer from Barcelona, spreading lies about his release clause.

“The burofax? I wanted to formalize things and make it official. For the last 6 months, I often told Bartomeu that I wanted to leave but he didn’t want to listen to me.”

“Bartomeu didn’t let me leave and he tried to hurt me by leaking things about me. He tried to make me look like the bad guy in the movie.”

“Bartomeu lied to me about a lot of things. I don’t want to talk about what he promised, and didn’t do.”

(Photo by JOSEP LAGO, FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Messi was asked about why he wanted to leave the club where he had been for nearly two decades, and if he seeked the help of a psychologist after the saga was (temporarily) put to bed.

“I felt like a cycle was over. My kids were saying they didn’t want to leave, but I felt like it was the best for me.”

“I should have gone to one (psychologist), but I never went. They insisted that I had to go. I know I needed it, but I never went.”

During that time there was a lot of talk about things going to court to settle the debate between Messi and Bartomeu. However, Messi ended up taking the high road, in his words, refusing to take the club he loved to court.

“I knew that if I went to court to leave, I would have won. But I didn’t want to do things that way.”

On his future

This segment kicks off on a hot note, where Messi is asked about Barcelona’s interim president Carles Tusquets’ words, where he says that he would have sold Messi had it been up to him.

“He can only prepare for the elections, but there’s no point in talking about the past. Let’s talk about the future.”

There is a lot of talk in the air which states that Messi might end up staying in the summer depending on who takes over the Barcelona administration. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner, however, clears the air, saying, “I haven’t spoken with any candidate yet.”

If Xavi becomes the coach will you stay?

“I don’t know, let’s see what happens in June.”

What about Neymar? Will you stay if he arrives?

“I don’t know as well, haha. Bringing Ney would be difficult and expensive.”

He says that, and then drops a huge hint about his future, almost as if he is teasing several fan-bases together. This statement will definitely be taken out of context by media outlets when speaking in regard to his move.

“Neymar only said he wants to play with me again, not come and play with me.”

The interviewer presents Messi with two travel guide books, one each on Manchester and Paris, almost as bait to bring some truth out of the legendary athlete. It does not work, though, as Messi replies, “No, no, you keep them.”

Would you move to Real Madrid one day?

“No way. Impossible.”

Finally, Messi gives a more direct answer regarding his future, saying, “I always do what my heart tells me to do.”

“I can’t tell you about my future because even I don’t know about it.”

“I still want to be related to this club and city even after I retire. This club is bigger than any player, myself included.”

If I leave then it will be in the best way possible.”

On Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann

Luis Suarez’s move away from Barcelona seemed inevitable in the summer as the Uruguayan edged over 33 years of age. However, the way he was pushed out of the club, to a direct rival — who are benefiting from his services now — was rather shambolic. This has been acknowledged before by Messi through an Instagram, post, but he spoke about it again, saying:

“What they did with Luis Suarez seemed crazy to me…the way things were done, the way he left. He left for free to a rival team.”

A special duo. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

There has been a lot of talk regarding Messi’s relationship with Antoine Griezmann, especially after the controversy that picked up after Griezmann’s ex-agent spoke shallowly about Messi. Several rumours suggest that their clashes on and off the pitch may catalyst Messi’s move out of Catalonia.

“My relationship with Griezmann is clear now. We drink yerba mate together. There are no problems.”

On Ronald Koeman, Pep Guardiola, and the current season

The summer was a period of change for Barcelona, especially in terms of personnel. Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Nelson Semedo, Luis Suarez left the club, while young guns such as Pedri, Fransisco Trincao were added to the squad. On this topic, Messi says:

“I knew that this would be a transitional season; there were new players and young people, and I thought that it was the right time to leave.”

Ronald Koeman is already facing a tough time as Barcelona manager, with rumours suggesting that he might not be at the helm for anytime after June. The season, so far, has been incredibly inconsistent for a number of reasons, and Messi acknowledges the same:

“Koeman is doing a good job. It is difficult because there are a lot of young players, but little by little we are growing.”

The bizarre calendar of this football season has not helped, either, with teams playing unto three games in one single week. Messi does not hold back while talking about this, saying:

“They care about TV contracts and sponsors. They don’t think about the players: we are playing on Sunday and Wednesday, and if necessary on Friday and Saturday. We’re looking for more economic benefit than the game itself.”

“We are footballers; we play and train. I’m not sure if we ever feel like they are taking advantage of us, but we enjoy what we do, at least I do personally.”

With the Presidential elections in January, all Barcelona fans are hoping for is one of Joan Laporta or Victor Font to take over the club and lead it to its golden era.

“Hopefully, the new president can get us back to winning ways and help us lift titles.”

However, there has also been talks of a new coach, including Xavi, of course, and none other than Pep Guardiola – the man who guided Barcelona to the glorious sextuple. Messi is, without question, in high praise of the Spanish mastermind, saying:

“For me, Pep is the best. He is a special coach who makes you see things in a different way.”

However, with Messi linked to Manchester City, there have been rumours suggesting that the duo was in talks for the next season already.

“Pep and I speak about regular things, how it’s going for him at City…nothing else.”

Messi ends his interview on a positive note, thanking Jordi, the man who interviewed him, and recalling the horrible year that went by.

“Thank you Jordi. It was such a sh*tty year for everyone, and hopefully everything gets better for everyone.”

Source: LeSextaTV, via SPORT

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