Power Sport Images/Getty Images
Lionel Messi has committed his future to Barcelona and insisted there is nowhere else he would rather be.
He is set to finish yet another season as the club’s top goalscorer and has added a ninth La Liga title to his trophy cabinet, as well as a sixth Copa del Rey.
The Argentinian has been linked with a move to Manchester City in the past, but he has now told TyC Sports (h/t Sport, via Alex Smith in the Mirror) he is happy at Barca: “I’m not tempted to leave Barca, there is nowhere better than Barca, if I wasn’t here I wouldn’t be anywhere. It’s the best team in the world, the best city in the world, my children already have their friends. I do not need change. I fight to win everything, I do not need to go anywhere else to prove anything.”
Messi, 30, was rested by manager Ernesto Valverde as Barcelona were downed 5-4 by Levante on Sunday to end their hopes of going the whole La Liga season unbeaten.
It was their first defeat in the Spanish top flight since a 2-0 loss to Malaga last April, an unbeaten run stretching to 43 games.
The La Liga title was wrapped up two weeks ago, but the disappointment of failing to go unbeaten—and a quarter-final exit in the UEFA Champions League—risks Barca’s double-winning 2017-18 season losing its sheen.
The fact is, though, the Blaugrana were largely thought to be in crisis before the start of the current campaign and it was widely expected Real Madrid would defend their La Liga title at a canter, per AS.
As it is, Barcelona look set to end the season 12 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid—their final game of the season is against Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Their success has been, in no small part, down to Messi.
He has netted 34 goals and provided 12 assists in 35 appearances in the Spanish top flight and continues to be the most important player by some distance at the Camp Nou.
The @FCBarcelona striker draws level with Cristiano on 25 goals for the season!
🔥 #LaLigaSantander 🔥 https://t.co/QarzuHtj9m
One of the numerous reasons why many underestimated Barcelona’s chances of success ahead of 2017-18 was because they lost Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain last August.
The Brazilian has enjoyed a decent amount of success in his first season at PSG—although they also disappointed in the Champions League—but he has already been linked with a return to Spain.
It is not a return to Barca that is being mooted, though, but a move to Real, a prospect Messi does not find attractive, per TyC Sports (h/t Sport, via Smith): “Seeing Neymar at Real Madrid would be terrible. It would be a terrible blow for Barcelona.”