Ex-FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi has given his thoughts on the club’s chances in the Champions League, his return to the Camp Nou one day, and that of former teammates Xavi Hernandez and Daniel Alves.
Visited by MARCA in Paris where he now plays for PSG, the Argentine was first probed on how Barca can fare in Europe’s premier club competition, which he was signed by the Ligue 1 giants with a view to finally winning for them.
“Barcelona are going through a stage of reconstruction with a team in which there are many young players,” he began.
“Today I think there are better teams than Barcelona, but, although they give that impression now, that does not mean that later they will not be able to fight because we must take into account the arrival of Xavi, the renewed hope, and the power to recover some [injured] players that they do not have now. They can keep growing and fighting,” Messi explained.
More specifically on Xavi, the club’s second all-time appearances leader after Messi himself, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner believes he can “contribute a lot” as head coach.
“He knows a lot and knows the house perfectly, and has lived at Barcelona since he was a child,” Messi said.
“He has renewed the hope at Barcelona because he is a person [who is] highly respected by the fans and by the players. He will be a very important coach for the younger footballers because he will teach them. With him the team will grow a lot. I do not have any doubts.”
“I speak often with Xavi,” Messi continued. “Since forever.”
“We are friends , we have shared many things, and since he left we have kept in touch. I don’t remember what I told him in the message [I sent to him], I congratulated him on this new step and I wish him well. For sure he will do very well because he knows a lot, he is a hard worker and knows the house well.”
Alves is another one of Messi’s close friends who now calls the Camp Nou home once more after rejoining earlier this month at the age of 38.
Messi admits that this “surprised” him, “especially at the moment”.
“I think he can be a good addition, just as in the case of Xavi he can be important for the young people . He is going to help them grow because he is a winning person and transmits a lot [of positivity]. He will do this with the young people, both in games and in training. Because he is also going to contribute a lot off the field with his daily work , commitment and the desire that he always has to win.”
Probed on whether Barca’s current predicament made him sad, Messi answered: “Yes, obviously.”
“I always want the best for Barcelona. I’m a fan even though I’m not playing there now. And I have colleagues and friends there within the team. I want them to do well. It is true that in La Liga they dropped points, but there is still a lot left and I have no doubt that Barcelona will come back and rise.”
As per his exit, Messi refused to point the figure and said he didn’t know if there were reasons other than La Liga’s strict salary cap that forced it.
“But that’s it, I left there and time has passed. What they told me is that they couldn’t renew me and that I couldn’t stay . You don’t have to look for more culprits or look into what happened. I’ll stick with what they told me and that’s it,” he vowed.
“I always said that at some point I will return to Barcelona because it is my home and because I am going to live there. And obviously if I can contribute and help the club I would love to come back,” Messi signed off.