Lionel Messi has said that Barcelona is “my home” amid speculation that he could make a move away from the Camp Nou, while adding that the club shouldn’t be viewed as favorites for the Champions League.
There have been suggestions that Messi has been frustrated on and off the pitch this season, but he has appeared to commit his future to the Catalans.
“I love Barcelona although I really do miss Rosario,” he told Mundo Deportivo. “This is my home, I’ve been here longer than Argentina.
“I love Barcelona, where I live and I really enjoy what I do for a living.”
There remains a clause in Messi’s contract that would allow him to walk away for nothing at the end of the season, even though his deal runs until 2021.
Messi also said that he found it strange that the club had to deny allegations about paying a third-party company to discredit players, club legends and presidential candidates, among others.
“It caught me a bit of surprise because I wasn’t here and I was travelling,” Messi said.
“The truth is that I find it strange that something like this happens. But they also said there would be evidence. We will have to wait to see if it is true or not.
“We cannot say much and wait to see what happens with all this. Truthfully, I find it very strange.”
Barca sit in second place in the La Liga table, one point behind rivals Real Madrid. Messi said that both sides have not been their usual form and that the league race will go until season’s end.
“It’s true that it is a year in La Liga, with both Madrid and us out of form, where we have dropped a lot of points and in that sense I believe that the two are going to be fighting until the end, it won’t stop after the Clasico.”
Messi also added that Barcelona shouldn’t be considered favorites to win their sixth Champions League trophy.
“If we want to aim for a Champions League title, we need to continue growing, because I think at the moment we are not at the level to fight for the title,” Messi said.
Barcelona have famously bowed out of the competition in grand fashion the past two occasions. Last season they lost to Liverpool 4-0 at Anfield in the semifinal second leg after winning the first match 3-0. The year prior, Barcelona suffered a shock ouster to Roma on away goals in the quarterfinals.
“I can’t explain what happened, especially at Liverpool,” Messi said. “What happened at Roma can happen once and grab you by surprise, but to have it happen again the following year with the result we had and that it occured in more or less the same way, it’s hard to explain.”
Messi added that he was surprised by the news that Manchester City — coached by his former manager Pep Guardiola — were handed a two-year ban on European competition.
“It’s surprising because no one thought something like that could happen,” Messi said. “If City can’t play in Champions League, with their players and the money they spent, it will be strange.”
He continued by saying that he feels for City’s players should they be forced to play without either Champions League or Europa League for two seasons.
“If City aren’t allowed there are many players who maybe find a way out, or perhaps not,” Messi said. “It is great to play in, but it can be tough without it. “