Lionel Messi Takes Argentine TV Interview To: Commit Future To Barcelona, Speak on Neymar's Mooted Madrid Move & Discuss His Rivalry With Cristiano Ronaldo
When a tearful Lionel Messi announced his retirement from the Argentinian national team, shortly after missing a penalty in a decisive shootout that saw his country fall to Chile in the Copa America final for the second year running, equally-distraught fans in his homeland took to the streets and played their part in convincing the Barcelona star to change his mind.
Now two years older and wiser, with the heartbreak of falling at the last hurdle in 2014, 2015 and 2016 at the World Cup and South America’s leading international tournament - held back-to-back to mark its centenary year and to be hosted by Brazil next year – behind him, Messi committed his future to La Albiceleste even in light of failure in Russia this summer through an exclusive interview with domestic media outlet TyC Sports.
“After I said those words, I thought with a cooler head and realised that by renouncing my involvement with the national team, I gave the wrong message to the youth and for the people who fight for their dreams,” he said of the infamous episode in June 2016.
“You have to keep trying. I also understand that in Argentina we have a complicated society and they themselves will ask us not to play anymore,” he went on. “The fact that we got to the finals and didn’t win anything is a weight that we carry with us and we want to break this barrier” it was confirmed, before Messi stated his belief that Argentina can still mount an impressive effort this year without lifting the trophy. “To have a good World Cup is to be among the top four” he stated. “Argentina deserves at least to be there with the history it has” he concluded on this particular matter.
As well as to his country, Messi also assured his loyalty to his club with the insistence that he would rather be nowhere else except Barcelona.
“I’m not tempted to leave Barça,” he began. “It’s the best team in the world, the best city, and my children already have friends [there]. I don’t need change. I fight to win everything and I don’t need to go anywhere else to prove anything,” he claimed.
On Neymar, a close teammate from 2013 to 2017 before the Brazilian’s shock departure to PSG, and his potential move to bitter rivals Real Madrid after just a sole season in Ligue 1, Messi admitted that the transition would be “terrible” because of all that “Ney” means to Barcelona.
“The way he left here, winning important titles like the Champions League and La Liga, it will be a blow to us. On a football level, it will make Madrid much stronger than it already is," he said.
In relation to Cristiano Ronaldo, his long-term rival for the Ballon d'Or and to be the considered the greatest player of the modern era, Messi remained as tight-lipped and respectful as ever.
“I’m not interested in being the greatest in history. I don’t compete for anything. I only try to improve and don’t compete with Cristiano,” he insisted. “It stimulates me to see Real in the Champions League [final] and to see others win titles. I want to be a champion every year,” he concluded.