Argentine football star Lionel Messi has reaffirmed his intention to return to Barcelona in the future after he broke up with the Catalan club this summer and joined the Saint-Germain team in Paris as a free agent.
Marca released an exclusive interview with Messi, who received the journalists at her new home in Paris. The Argentine discussed his adaptation to live in the French capital, PSG’s chances of winning the Champions League, being a teammate with longtime rival Sergio Ramos and what’s happening at his former club.
– You have won eight Pichichi Trophy prizes awarded by Marca to the most productive player of the La Liga season. That is a record number.
– The truth is, it’s crazy to win so many Pichichi Trophy awards. It seemed impossible to reach Telmo Zarra’s number of six awards and all the more to overtake him, so that’s something impressive.
– You had to leave La Liga and many believe that this record will not be improved. Do you think so too?
– Today, while in Paris, I do not give it as much value as it really is. We play every three days and you just don’t have time to think about it. Focus on the upcoming matches and the challenges and goals we have set ourselves. When I retire, I will see all those records, then give it the value it needs to be.
– You have already managed to adjust in Paris, you have a house, the school of children is solved.
– I’m fine now. I have been fully accommodated since we were able to move into new homes and the children started attending school. I also had a lot of trips to Argentina for the qualifying competition, but I settled here well.
– How did the children deal with it? Did they start learning French?
– It was much easier than we thought at first. We thought a lot about how hard it would be for them here. But in the end, they were the ones who adapted the fastest. They are already going to school and will definitely learn French very soon, because when they need to study, the kids kind of fly. All this gave great peace to both me and my wife Antonela. We saw how they quickly adapted to the new city and the new country.
– With you, Kylian Mbappe, Neymaru and many others, PSG are the main favorites to win the Champions League?
– Everyone says we are the biggest favorites and I will not deny that we are one of the candidates, but we still need to become a strong team. We must complete that process by becoming a real team, because we really have the strengths and the players are the ones who can achieve it. But we’re not the only ones, there are really great candidates. The Champions League is very difficult, which is why it is so beautiful and interesting. There are the best teams out there and it’s getting harder and harder. Yes, we are among the favorites, but not the only ones.
– Which other teams are with you?
– Liverpool are playing very well now. They look like the team that won the championship league. Then there are Manchester City, Munich’s Bayern, Madrid’s Real, Madrid’s Atletico. There are many teams that can fight for the trophy, and in recent years the Champions League is one of the most even and competitive.
– Do you think the Spanish teams have a chance?
– Real is always competitive. The same can be said for Atletico. They are two very tough rivals. They both know how to compete and how to play football, so they are definitely favorites. Barcelona is going through a phase of reconstruction and is a team with a lot of young players. Today, I think there are better teams than Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be able to fight later. We have to take into account the arrival of Xavi, the renewed enthusiasm and the healing players they didn’t have yet. They can still fight and improve. Sevilla are now in a difficult situation, but they still have a chance to break into the playoffs. All Spanish teams have been demonstrating this in all European competitions over the last few years.
– What do you think about Cristiano Ronaldo’s performances?
– Man United is a very strong team with good players. Cristiano already knew this club, but now it is the next stage and he has adapted impressively. From the start, as always, he started scoring goals and had no problems. In the Premier League, Man United is not doing as well as we all thought, but it is a very difficult league with a lot of twists and turns. After December a lot can change and anything can happen.
– Tell the truth, didn’t you miss the direct duels with Ronaldo?
– We have not played in the same league for a long time. We competed individually and with teams for the same goals. It was a very nice time for both us and the fans because they really enjoyed it. It is a beautiful memory that will remain in the history of football.
– Neymar, C.Ronaldo, L.Mesi … Why does La Liga lose one superstar every season and what to do next to avoid it or attract new stars?
– Hopefully they will be able to get back great players and have the best ones in the last decade or more. It has always been one of the best leagues in the world and I hope it will become one again. Many of the stars have left for a variety of reasons, but I’m sure La Liga could be as good in the future as it has always been.
– As for the stars, do you see K.Mbappe on Real Madrid next season?
– The truth is, I don’t know. Only he knows what he has in mind and what he is going to do. All I can say is that I am happy that he stayed with us this year. He is a very important player in achieving his goals. He is completely focused on that. When the season is over, then he will decide what to do. The truth is, I don’t know what will happen.
– Does he speak Spanish well?
– Yes, he speaks perfectly. But it is fluent in many languages: Spanish, English, of course, French.
– What does the PSG locker room look like? It is said that so many leaders cannot be together …
– I was lucky to come to the locker room with very good players and very good people. This is the most important. My adaptation was quick. True, it was very strange at first. On the one hand, it’s hard to move to a new place after so many years in the same organization, but on the other hand, it was very easy because I knew a lot of players and many of them speak Spanish. We have very good people, we are friendly.
– How does it feel to have Ramos sitting in the same locker room after all you have experienced against each other in Spain as rivals?
– Nothing now, but at first it was strange when we were rivals for so many years, captains for Barcelona and Real and played for El Clasico so many times. But it’s all in the past and we’ve always had great respect for each other. Having a teammate today is impressive. Gradually he is gaining momentum and I hope to be able to compete as best he can as soon as possible. He will be one of the key players to fight for our goals.
– Is Ramos what you envisioned?
– I already knew him. It is true that we did not talk for a long time, but at La Liga our paths crossed for many years and we have talked many times. I knew what he was like. I had former teammates who were with him in the Spanish national team. Now that we’ve spent more time together in Paris, I saw what a great person he is.
– What can Xavi give Barcelona?
– It can contribute a great deal. This is a coach who knows a lot, knows the place very well and has been living in Barcelona since he was a child. He returned hope to Barcelona because he is highly respected by both fans and players. It will be very important for young players as they will teach them a lot. With him, the team will definitely grow and there is no doubt here.
– Xavi said you sent him a humorous message when he moved to Barcelona.
– I talk to Xavi often. We’ve been friends sharing a lot of things since he left. I don’t remember what I was sending him, I congratulated him on a new step and wished him good luck. He will certainly do very well because he knows a lot, is hardworking and knows the academy well.
– Do you think Barcelona has treated Ronald Coeman unfairly? Was the coach responsible for the team’s situation?
– It’s always unfair to coaches. It was unfair to both Koeman and Valverde … When you have bad results, it’s easiest to put it on the coach and replace it. Coeman came in a very difficult situation, a few players left, and only a lot of young footballers could buy him. As I said, the easiest thing is to blame the coach. Coaches know this too because it is their profession.
– Did Dani Alves’ return surprise you? What can he add?
– Especially at the moment, his return surprised me. I think it can be a good addition. As with Xavi, it will be important for young people. It will help them grow because they are the winner and know how to pass it on. He will also contribute to the daily work outside the square.
– Barcelona are far from the top and are in danger of being eliminated from the Champions League in tonight’s match. What do you think? Is that sad?
– Yes, of course. I want the best for Barcelona. I’m a fan of them, even though I don’t play there anymore. I have a lot of colleagues and friends on the team and I want them to succeed. True, they lost a lot of points in the La Liga championship, but there are still a lot of matches and I have no doubt that Barcelona will rise to the top again.
– When you left the club, you were told that there was no money on the team due to the rule of financial integrity. Looking back, do you think there were any reasons other than those stated by President Joan Laporta?
– I don’t know, but it’s over. I left and that time was over. They told me they can’t renew the contract and I can’t stay. No need to look for culprits or look back. I stick to what they told me and that’s all.
– Laporta said he hoped you and A.Iesta could return to Barcelona. Can this dream come true?
– As a player?
– At the moment it was not named, although later, in another interview, he said not as a player.
– I have always said that I will be returning to Barcelona at some point because it is my home and I will live there. Of course, if I could contribute to the club, I would love to come back.
– You should be happy about the Argentine national team, because you have already reached the World Cup and it will be an incredible end of the year.
– At the national level, it has been incredible and impressive. I managed to achieve one of the goals that cost me a lot and that was the Copa America trophy. I was very close to him several times, but I failed. We have achieved the goal of getting into the World Cup, and now we want more.
– What can Argentina achieve in the World Cup?
– We are doing very well now. The victory at Copa America helped a lot because the team works differently and is more confident. We know we still have a long way to go to be among the favorites. We will try to show off in the best possible way so that we can compete the way we do in every match.
– Spain will be there, along with your former coach Luis Enrique. How do you rate the Spanish national team?
– I see that they are doing very well. I watch the Spanish national team match whenever I can. We see the impact of L. Enrique, you see that it is his national team. Everyone who competes has very clear ideas and works as a team. They are a good team and have demonstrated this in the European Championship and World Cup selection. At the European Championships, they deserved so much more.
– Would you now agree to the final of the Spanish and Argentine national teams at the World Cup?
– Of course. With Spain or with anyone else. I would like to be in another final and reach another goal. This dream is always alive.