• Quote: ‘I think we need a little calm now, this break, to clean our heads and come back with more desire than ever’.

By Andrew Atkinson

Lionel Messi is set to remain at Barcelona despite his vociferous outburst amid arch rivals Real Madrid lifting the 2019-20 La Liga title.

“As long as the club and the fans want me to stay from my side there will be no problem,” said Messi.

Argentine star Messi, who scored two goals against Alaves on the final day of the La Liga season, said on his desire to remain at Camp Nou: “That’s my idea, to stay here. I want to win another Champions League, I want to win more Ligas and that will always be my goal.”

Messi won his seventh La Liga golden boot, eclipsing a record he previously held jointly with Telmo Zarra, marking the fourth consecutive season the Barcelona captain has topped the league goalscoring charts.

Following the disruption to the 2019-20 campaign, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Ballon d’Or has been cancelled. Messi won a record sixth Ballon d’Or last year, taking him past rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi hit out Barcelona’s poor performances in the final games of La Liga, and highlighted defeats by Liverpool and Roma in Europe in the Champions League.

Messi said Barcelona could suffer a similar fate this season – and crash out of the Champions League at the hands of Napoli in the round of 16 – if not careful.

After Real Madrid lifted the La Liga title, Messi has called on his teammates to be calm in a bid to turn things around in the Champions League.

“I think we need a little calm now, this break, to clean our heads and come back with more desire than ever,” said Messi.

“We’ve said everything that needs to be said – self critical,” said Messi.

“Now it’s time to work hard and give our all. There’s nothing left to talk about, we just have to show that things can change.”

On Barcelona’s consistency, Messi said: “It’s a big moment because we’re going to be playing for something important (Champions League).

“You don’t need to have the captain’s armband on to realise what we’ve done. We’re all conscious of the fact we have to be much more consistent.

“There were games when we were very good in spells, but we have to maintain that over 90 minutes and in all games.”

Messi, 33, who made his senior debut at the club in 2004, making almost 500 appearances, scoring over 400 goals, said: “There have always been a lot of clubs interested in me and who were even willing to meet my release clause.

“I have had many opportunities to leave – but it never occurred to me – and that hasn’t changed.”


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