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Messi doesn't think Barca can win Champions League


Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea

Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea

Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea

Lionel Messi insists his commitment to Barcelona is unshaken by recent events off the field.

It has been a turbulent season at Barca, who trail La Liga leaders Real Madrid by a point, with a recent coaching change sparking an angry exchange between Messi and director of football Eric Abidal.

That was followed by allegations Barca hired a social media firm to criticise key figures associated with the club in a bid to protect president Josep Maria Bartomeu's reputation.

Bartomeu denies the claim but Messi said he could "see weird things happening" at the club in a pre-released extract from an interview with Catalan sports publication Mundo Deportivo.

But in the full interview published yesterday, the Argentina captain vowed he is going nowhere - despite the reported existence of a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for nothing this summer.

"I have said many times that my idea is (to stay) and as long as the club continue to want that, there will never be a problem," the 32-year-old said.

"I want to win another Champions League, I want to continue winning La Liga and I always aspire to that.

"I have always had the choice, but it never occurred to me to leave and does not now either. I love Barcelona, this is my home."

Abidal was critical of the Barca squad after Ernesto Valverde was sacked, accusing them of not working hard enough for the former coach.

Messi, who was close to Valverde, said: "I don't know what happened to make him say that but I responded because I felt attacked. I felt he was attacking the players.


"It bothered me coming from someone from the club... to put the players in the middle of the dismissal of the coach seemed crazy. (Abidal) is the one who makes the decisions and has to take charge."

Quique Setien took over from Valverde and Messi admits Barca must adapt to his style of play, including a return to the more intense pressing favoured by previous coaches Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

"We are going through a process of changing coaches. Little by little, we adapt to what he wants," he said.

"It is true that for many moments in games we play backwards - that makes people nervous because at any moment the opposition can take it away from us and score a goal. There are other things - trying to press after losing the ball, things we had lost a little.

"People are disturbed but it is normal with the changes and because we are not playing well either, but you have to be calm and trust until the end. In the Champions League we have to continue growing a lot, because what we have now is not enough to fight for the Champions League. We need to be more reliable, not make the silly mistakes we have made, and not to repeat what happened to us in Rome or Liverpool.

"In the league, both we and Madrid are inconsistent. In that sense, I think we will be fighting to the end."

Barcelona made a new signing yesterday in Martin Braithwaite as the Spanish champions were given special permission to make an emergency signing outside of the transfer window after French forward Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for six months with a serious hamstring injury.


The Danish striker signed a four-year contract from La Liga strugglers Leganes after the Catalans paid his E18million release clause. Upon signing for Barca, Braithwaite's release clause rocketed to E300m. Before joining Leganes last year, the Dane had had an unremarkable career which included largely unsuccessful stints at English club Middlesbrough and French side Toulouse, also playing on loan for Girondins Bordeaux.