Lionel Messi Curated
Captain of FC Barcelona
CURATED BY :
What would you say about a reunion with Neymar?
I think it is complicated how Neymar would leave PSG. We would love him to come back, as a player and for the dressing room. We’re friends, we had some good experiences together and others not so much. But PSG are not going to let Neymar walk away.
What does Messi think about the challenge facing Barca’s La Masia players today?
We come from another era. Today we live in another situation and we have to adapt to what we see. It’s true that young players get tempting offers. Those below think it’s difficult to get to the first team, while in other places they are given that opportunity, and not just money. It’s tempting.
How has he gotten so incredibly good at free kicks while penalties remain an area of improvement for him?
It’s different. In one you have a barrier and distance, it’s a different type of shot and you don’t have the pressure of having to score. With a penalty you have more to lose than win and the goalkeeper feels more comfortable. The pressure is very different.
How’s Ousmane Dembele doing?
On the pitch he is a phenomenon and it depends on him, he has all the opportunity in the world to do what he wants. He can be one of the best. On the other hand, he’s a young guy who is adapting to the city and the club. The less you speak about it, the better. It’s necessary to leave him so he can be calm. He has already realized his mistakes and has rectified them. We are going to help him focus on football.
Five Golden Boots, five Ballon d’Ors, is the fifth Champions League all that is missing?
It would be good. As we said at the beginning of the season, the Champions League is always special for what it means and we would like to win it again.
At this point in your life, is football still your priority or has family taken over?
As soon as I had my children, the priority was always my family. It is the most important thing. Obviously I love football and I live for it, but family is above all.
What is your impossible dream? Something you would like to do but know you can’t?
Nothing is impossible. We have to fight and give our all and achieve everything we set out to do. With that mentality, work and effort, nothing is impossible.
However, when you put the ball down for a free-kick it is almost half a goal. Is there much difference between penalties and free-kicks?
It's different. In one you have a barrier and distance, it's a different type of shot and you don't have to pressure of having to score. With a penalty you have more to lose than win and the goalkeeper feels more comfortable. The pressure is very different.
Are you surprised by the quality of players coming from the youth system?
At first yes, but they've been training with us for some time now and you realise they are good players. The club does well to progress them and let them train with us and they grow more from that. It's an important model.
Do you miss Andres Iniesta?
Obviously, both on and off the pitch. We shared many years sharing a lot of things, a lot of time, training sessions, matches and situations away from football. Of course it is strange.
Are you surprised that Real Madrid are missing Cristiano Ronaldo so much?
At the beginning of the season I said they are a great club, one of the best in the world and with a lot of great players, but anyone would miss Cristiano. He scores a lot of goals and gives you many other things so it doesn't surprise me.
Is it good that the league is more competitive in the interest of the competition and it involves more than the big three?
That was always said of the Spanish league but the reality is there are many competitions where the same thing happens: two or three teams challenge and the others play another championship. It's good for the competition and the fans.
What’s your first football memory?
My first memories are from when I was very little, maybe three or four years old playing in my neighbourhood at home. I can picture myself with the ball at my feet from a very young age.
Is your playing style a result of your education at Barcelona?
My style of play has always been the same. I never tried to develop a specific style. From very young I just played this way. What is certainly true is that I learnt a lot in the youth system. The way we worked here was different. There was a lot of contact with the ball and a lot of work on the tactical system. I came from Argentina where we didn’t do anything like that. Over there it was lots of running and not much more.
Why do you think Deco and Ronaldinho took you under their wing?
I don’t know. Right from the start I was lucky enough to have them by my side. I will be grateful to them for my whole life; them and [Thiago] Motta and Sylvinho.
How well does the statement ”not for talkers, just for doers” represent Lionel Messi?
How do you think being around the best player in the world has shaped you as a player?
At what age would you say that winning trophies and being successful became important for you?
How would you like Leonel Messi to be remembered?
You’ve scored some spectacular goals in your career, do you have a favourite goal?
Yes, the goal against Manchester United in the Champions League final. It may not be the best, but it was very important for the occasion. It's my favourite goal because of what it meant.
If you could sign one player from any team in the world to play with you at Barcelona, who would it be?
Its very tricky to pick one player. Because I've played with some fantastic players through my career, I wouldn't be able to name one name. Also, Barcelona have some great players at the club already.
If you could offer one piece of advice to any young aspiring footballer, what would it be?
I would say the same advice as was given to me by Maradona. I would pass onto any young player to enjoy your football, play your football as you want to play the game, try and enjoy it and make the most of it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career Lionel?
Many years ago when I first started my career Maradona told me "to enjoy and play as you know", and that's stayed with me ever since and is the best advice I've been given.
How are you feeling now that you’ve turned 30? Are you where you thought you’d be?
To tell you the truth, I never thought about how I’d be feeling when I got here. But I’m very happy with both my personal life and football. I’d say I’m in good shape on and off the pitch. I’m very pleased with where I am right now.
Lots of things change as time goes by. Has your football changed too?
Yes, of course. You grow, and as time goes by you improve as well, picking up new things along the way. As I’ve grown older I’ve grown on the pitch too.
Given the importance of the match, was it a performance that you think you had to give?
No, I don’t know if I had to give it. I’ve had some really good games with the national team. What I can say is that with the way things turned out it was a very important and special moment for me.
Is it an unbearable burden for you to deliver the dream of nation?
No, not really. If you are an Argentine and a football follower,you what your country to win thre highest prize. There is nothing wrong in it. In fact, I bthink the same way. We all know how challenging it is to win a world cup, but we all want it, Argentina needs it. So this is quite natural.
And how do you go about managing those obligations when there’s so much pressure on you and interest in you?
I try not to change my own lifestyle, and keep relationships with my friends and family independent from my football career. I’m just a normal guy who happens to play football for a living.
You come in for some very special treatment on the pitch sometimes, though. How do you manage to keep your cool when you keep getting fouled? And do you ever worry about getting injured?
Football’s a contact sport and opponents try to defend themselves in the best way they can. What I hate most about football is violence, so I try to stick to just playing football, which is the main reason why people come and watch us. I don’t think about getting injured, nor do I want to think about it.
Do you participate in the design process of your signature boots as well as technical details?
What kind of future goals did you set for yourself?
Who showed you how to play football?
What advice would you give to the youngsters who want to play football?
What you do to stay motivated when you have won so many trophies with BARCA?
Is that the BARCA style of play helped you to develop and made you the player you are?
How do you feel when you hear that you are probably the best player in the history?
How do you feel being the player with most Ballon d’Or?
How does it feel to play in a team that seems invincible at times, and plays with a style that’s the envy of the whole world?
It’s a privilege and an honour. It’s very flattering, and it fills us with pride that teams hold a mirror up to Barça’s style of play.
Still, it must have been nice to score what turned out to be the winning goal?
Every goal is special, but I would say that goal at Wembley was my personal favourite from those I scored last season, because it took us closer to the fourth Champions League in the history of Barcelona.
What do you do to make sure you retain that hunger to carry on winning and carry on scoring?
My only motivation is to wake up every day happy, because you are having fun managing your professional obligations and your personal life. My first thought is having fun. I consider that a good way to reach my objectives – winning titles with my team.
Did you get any tips from any of your team-mates before the shoot?
All my team-mates are good dressers, but Gerard Pique has done a lot of fashion shoots – he’s a very fashionable man!.
And how do you go about managing those obligations when there’s so much pressure on you and interest in you?
I try not to change my own lifestyle and keep relationships with my friends and family independent from my football career. I’m just a normal guy who happens to play football for a living.
Finally, you’ve turned from footballer to fashionista with Dolce & Gabbana. We’re not used to seeing you like this. How did it feel to get suited and booted by one of the world’s most famous designer labels?
I prefer playing football, but I like good clothes, so I’m lucky. The most important thing is to feel comfortable in what you wear and Dolce & Gabbana make me feel comfortable, and I like the look.
Do you consider yourself the best player in the world?
How do you handle the pressure,while jumping onto the pitch?
How do you imagine the day you stop playing football,Where do you see yourself?
Do you think some people and some sections of the media have been particularly unfair to you?
The truth is that I don’t care what the media say. What matters to me is what my team-mates say and those people who are with me. I just have to thank them for their support.
What was your reaction when you were presented with the Ballon d’Or in front of the Barca fans at Camp Nou?
It was a beautiful moment. I was pleased to enjoy it with Xavi and Andres together along with the whole group. I think the public understood the message that the Ballon d’Or was a prize for everybody.
What is the most memorable goal you’ve ever scored?
Out of all of the goals in my career the one I scored with the head in the final of the Champions League [against Manchester United in 2009]. I think that one was a very important goal for me and for Barcelona and the truth is I have very sweet memories of that goal.
What needs to happen for Barcelona to maintain this level of domination?
I believe we must continue to maintain this mentality and we have to keep wanting to play in the same way. We’ve been working like this for a long time and hopefully we can keep the momentum going much longer.
Is Cristiano Ronaldo your great rival for the Ballon d’Or or do you think any other players have a chance?
There are many great players around today who can win the Ballon d'Or. In recent years there have just been two, but now players like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Luis Suarez can compete for that award.
Cristiano said some time ago that, in the future, you two could be good friends. Do you think that’s possible?
I don't know if we will be. Friendship is built through spending time together and getting to know each other. We have no relationship, mainly because we only see each other at awards ceremonies and that's the only time we speak. Everything is fine, but our lives don't cross over very often.
You now have four Golden Boots, what do you think when you see those trophies?
It's a beautiful way of recognizing what it represents, but I've always said my priority was never individual awards. I would prefer to win another Champions League or La-Liga, they are my priorities. But it's beautiful to have these at home because of the meaning they have.
Is it easy to be Lionel Messi?
I'm a normal person who tries to have a family life. Yes, it's true that I'd like to go unnoticed and have a normal life without everyone watching me from time to time.
Do you see yourself coaching in the future after you retire from full time playing?
I don't know what I'll do. We've spoken several times as a family about how I'll occupy my time once my football career is over, but it's not something that is settled. I always said that I don't see myself as a coach, I don't have a feeling for it. In a few years, that may change but I still have several years left and then we'll see. When the end is near, something will be done.
What remains of that child who arrived in Barcelona, aged 13 and full of enthusiasm?
My dreams and desires remain the same. Obviously, a lot of time has passed since then and many things have happened, both on and off the pitch.
What do your children ask you? Do they understand who Lionel Messi is?
Obviously Mateo doesn't yet, he finds it strange when someone comes and asks for a photo or an autograph. He doesn't understand. Thiago is starting to understand, more or less but not quite. He likes to go to the stadium and watch games, but he doesn't fully understand. Sometimes at home he sees me and calls me Messi like the fans do, he doesn't quite understand.
Do you feel that you’ve given back to Barcelona with interest everything you received as a kid?
No, I don’t know… I always wanted to show my commitment to the club. Maybe in the beginning, it was more obvious, but now it’s normal. This is my home, my club. I owe everything to Barça and as I’ve always said, I’m happy here.
You’ve said that you’re not bothered how many goals you score, that you prefer titles. Is there anything that bothers you especially?
I prefer to win titles with the team more than individual prizes or scoring more goals than anybody else. I’m more interested in being a good person than being the best footballer in the world. After all, when all this ends, what do you take with you? When I retire, I hope people remember me as a decent person. I like to score goals, but also to have friends among the people I have played with.
What makes you angry?
I hate losing. In life, poverty. I come from a country where you see it everywhere. There are many kids that have no choice but to go out in the street and beg or to work from a very young age.
You have a foundation to help underprivileged kid?
We work to educate kids, to get them off the streets through education and sport. We work with Unicef, schools, and hospitals… It feels good to be able to help.
Your fame means you are always under the spotlight. Is it suffocating?
No, because I never act. I’m the way I am on and off the pitch. I don’t mind being looked at because I am always the same person. It’s been a while since I started to be well-known and the initial embarrassment passes.
As your coach said that, you do the same thing now as when you were a kid, but against the best players in the world, not 14-year-old.?
It’s true my playing style hasn’t changed much, but obviously I’ve learned things about the game. It helped coming to Barcelona and training with the youth teams. Just yesterday I was watching kids of seven training near us and the way they are taught is different to anywhere else in the world. They teach you from a young age to keep the ball, tactics, to understand the game. These kids were playing the same way we do!
Have you got over the disappointment of not playing in the 2006 Champions League final?
I owe a lot to [then coach Frank Rijkaard]. He was the first to trust in me; he gave me my debut. He knew why he left me out and although I didn’t like it or know the reason why, later I understood. Everything that came afterward is thanks to him.
Which game against Real Madrid do you remember most?
I remember all the ones we won. It’s the best feeling, beating Real, because of the history between the two clubs. It is a great team. I guess the semifinal of the Champions League at the Bernabéu, because of what the game meant.
You score quite a lot against Iker Casillas. Do you not like him or what?
No, quite the opposite. I’ve been lucky enough in the last few clásicos to score. I hope it continues. Iker is a great keeper, one of the best. I’ve scored against him but he’s kept plenty out as well. He’s very good, very quick.
Mourinho opined that Barça’s soccer is boring and Spain is a defensive team.
Spain plays almost the same way as we do. You can’t get the ball off them. As a player it’s great to play like that. I played against Spain and I was always chasing the ball without taking it off them. It happened in Madrid, in Murcia… When we played them in Argentina, it was a different matter. I’ve never run so much without having the ball as I have when playing against Spain.
You’re very careful about your diet now. Is there anything you miss eating?
There’s been a lot said about my diet but the change wasn’t as great as people made out. I eat the same as I used to, although there are some things that I now eat that I didn’t then, like fish. Most of it is the same, though.
You set-up a lot of goals these days, as well as scoring them. Has your game changed? Were you more individualistic before, more of a “chupón” [ball hog]?
I have never considered myself greedy or a ball hog, even if some people thought I was. I have grown as a player and learnt from those people who tried to help me improve.
How do you live with the pressure of your position, with the fame and the constant eulogies? Are you self-critical?
Yes, very. I’m more critical with myself than anyone else is. I know when I have done well and when I have done badly. I don’t need anyone to tell me. I just look at what I did on the pitch and I know; I don’t need to be told anything else.
When you get the ball, do you think about your options or is your game more spontaneous?
I always try to do what I think is the best thing to head towards the opposition’s goal and from there it all comes naturally.
Beyond the footballing aspects of your game, do you work physically? Do you spend a lot of time in the gym?
I work on my weak points to try to prevent injuries and to always be at my best. I look after myself, but it’s not like I spend my whole life in the gym. I’m not a fan.
What can you learn from your team-mates? Do any of them have skills you envy? Xavi, for example…
He’s a great player. He never loses the ball, he has great vision and reads the game, he controls the rhythm and pace..
What can you learn from your team-mates? Do any of them have skills you envy?Andres Iniesta, for example…
He’s similar. Maybe Andres has more goalscoring ability, he gets into the area more, arriving from deeper. But they’re similar. Andres has great vision too and when he is on form the team revolves round him. When he and Xavi are both on the pitch it’s hard for the other team to get the ball.
You seem to be dropping ever deeper and getting more and more involved in the development of the games, not just in the penalty area. Is that a conscious change?
It depends on the game. I drop deeper to come into contact with the ball more and try to start up the moves from further back, combining with the midfielders. But it always depends on the game. I’m not just another midfielder, I do what the team needs in every moment.
It’s said that when you lose a game, even just in training, the best thing to do is not even to try to talk to you. Are you really such a bad loser?
The same as anyone in the dressing room. When you lose you get wound up and that’s a good thing because we all want to win, even in training. That means that our hunger for success doesn’t drop.
Have you become a leader since the departure of Pep Guardiola?
I’m the same as before. Everyone knows their role and this group doesn’t need a leader as such because of the kind of people that there are in the dressing room. I still play the same role as always.
Would you want your son to become a footballer?
I want him to be what he wants to be. When he grows up he’ll get a feel for what he wants to do. I’ll be happy with that and so will his mum.
Which improvements makes you most proud?
I got a lot better at the final ball, with passes that finish with a goal. I also got a lot better at free-kicks and with my right leg.
Which is your preferred position on the pitch?
Do you review your own games?
I never watch my own games. I don’t like watching myself. I prefer to look forwards.
How was your evolution in football?
It’s a normal process. When I made my debut I was 17. I played in another position, in a different way. I changed the way I play and the way I move around the pitch.
What does Messi thinks about chances of European cup?
“What I said was playing as we did in those final few games before football was suspended, of course we wouldn’t win the Champions League,” Messi said. “I never doubted the squad we have and I don’t doubt we can win everything that’s left, just not playing as we were playing. “Everyone has their own opinion and all opinions are respected. Mine is based on being lucky enough to play in the Champions League for many years and I know it’s not possible to win it playing as we were playing,”
How Sensi has spoken on how he is dealing with being stuck in lockdown?
It’s not easy because I miss being on the field and my teammates. I am facing this moment with my girlfriend, watching TV series and playing cards. We hope everything will pass quickly.
What he told about the work he is putting in at home?
I am doing specific things for the problems I had. With the staff I am strengthening my body and this will help me over time.
How the team are staying in touch with one another through messaging applications?
Being away from the lock room is not easy and we are not seeing each other in the flesh but we are all in touch with each other in the WhatsApp group.
If he expected to do so well at the beginning upon his arrival at Inter on a season long loan with option to buy from fellow Serie A side Sassuolo?
I certainly wasn’t expecting it, I made a great start to the season, I owe a lot to the club, to my teammates and to the fans who made me feel at home immediately. I always gave my best, then I had problems that forced me to stay out.
What working under Inter manager Antonio Conte has done for his game?
Conte has given me an intensity that I didn’t have before. He helped me to get on board with his mentality and now I have a different way of playing as a mezzala.
How it felt in the Champions League and the recent rumours which have linked him with a move to Inter?
It was a great feeling to face him, it is for anyone because he is one of the best of all time. Messi at Inter? It would be better to have him as a teammate than face him.
What he thinks it will feel like when football eventually resumes?
It will be more beautiful to resume after this difficult period, it will mean that we have won this fight. We will have to live with more passion and desire, but at the moment the main thing is to stay at home.