Messi keeping options open on Barca future

2020-12-29 12:16:28

Lionel Messi reacts after missing a scoring chance in Barcelona's 3-0 win at Real Valladolid on Dec 22. Messi has been ruled out of Barca's next game against Eibar due to an ankle problem. [Photo/Reuters] Superstar says he will make decision at end of season MADRID-Lionel Messi won't make a decision on his long-term future at Barcelona until the season is over, with the 33-year-old also raising the possibility of playing in the United States one day in an interview broadcast Sunday. Speaking to Spanish TV channel La Sexta, Messi insisted that he was "excited" to play under Barca coach Ronald Koeman, but added of a possible move elsewhere: "I am going to wait until the end of the season (to decide)." Messi tried to leave the club where he has played his entire 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 ex-Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu. "Now I am focused on winning titles instead of other things," Messi said. "I have always had the idea that I would like to have the experience of playing in the United States, but this is not the time for it." 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 the interview, which was 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 Jan 24, after which 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. Situation 'really bad' Messi said he is under no illusions over the position Barca finds itself 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 Camp Nou. "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 centered 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, which is expected to soon appoint Argentine Mauricio Pochettino. 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 in the TV interview. "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." Eibar absence Messi will miss Barcelona's last match of the calendar year after the Catalan giant announced on Sunday that ankle treatment will keep him out of its midweek La Liga match with Eibar. In a statement, Barca said Messi "is completing the treatment for his right ankle, and is expected to return to training after the FC Barcelona v SD Eibar match". Messi, who is reportedly in Argentina taking a short winter break, has already missed two matches in December, sitting out Champions League fixtures at Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros. Messi has played 18 times this season for the five-time European champion, scoring 10 times. His last goal, the third in a 3-0 win at Real Valladolid on Wednesday, took the Argentine past Pele's previous world-record mark for the number of goals scored for one club-644. After a troubling start to the campaign Barca has taken 10 points from its last four games and sits fifth in La Liga. However Koeman's side finds itself eight points behind league leader Atletico Madrid, with Barca having also played one game more than Diego Simeone's side. Agencies