Lionel Messi has hinted at Juventus now being a greater threat to Barcelona’s Champions League aspirations than Real Madrid because they have signed Cristiano Ronaldo.
Talking to Radio Catalunya’s programme Tot Costa Messi said: ‘Real Madrid have one of the best teams in the world with great players but the fact that Ronaldo is not there takes something away from them.
‘And the fact that Ronaldo is at Juventus make them one of the clear favourites to win the Champions League with the squad that they have his arrival at the club.’
Messi admitted he was surprised by Ronaldo’s departure to Italy in the summer, adding: ‘I didn’t imagine him not playing for Madrid. And I also didn’t imagine him at Juventus. There were a lot of clubs linked with him and Juventus was not one of those. It surprised me a lot.’
Asked if he has ever been tempted to seek a similar adventure away from Barcelona, the 31-year-old who has been linked with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United in the past said: ‘I have everything here. I have been here since I was 13.
‘I’m in the best team in the world, my children were born here and I have no reason to go anywhere else.’
Messi joked that his eldest son Thiago is now old enough to know not to talk to him about football after major defeats.
He said: ‘Since Thiago’s birth I try to take defeats in a different way. But it’s difficult. I suffer a lot and I find it hard to pick myself up again.
‘It takes me a few days. And Thiago understands it. He has started to really like football and he follows Argentina and Barcelona and after a big defeat he doesn’t talk about it. He knows its best not to talk about it but sometimes he lets something drop and then he says: “ah I know we aren’t talking about that”.’
Tot Costa also asked Messi about his pre-season speech in front of a packed Nou Camp when he told fans that the Champions League would be the target this season.
The once timid teenager who is captain for the first time this campaign said: ‘I didn’t have a speech prepared but I was prepared to speak in front of all those people. I know I can’t avoid that now, I have to do that. I’m very proud to be the captain.
‘I think it’s due [The Champions League]. We have gone a few years being knocked out in the quarters. And perhaps the last one [v Roma] was the worst because of the result we had in our favour from the first leg. But when things started getting ugly we were not able to react. At no moment could we get in the game.
‘We have the squad to achieve something in Champions League. We could have won it more times. I think about the year we were knocked out in the semi-finals by Inter and then by Chelsea.’
Messi praised all of Barcelona’s new signings but his frankness over the one who has impressed him most will surprise some. ‘The one who has really surprised me is Arthur,’ he said. ‘I didn’t know much about him before and you can’t compare but he reminds me a little bit of Xavi’s style of play in the way he likes to keep the ball with short passes and not give possession away.’
Having scored Barcelona’s 5,000th and 6,000th goal in La Liga Messi was asked if he will be around in approximately nine years – aged 40 – to score the 7,000th.
‘I don’t think,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what will happen after I have retired. When the time comes I’m sure something will appear at the time. We talk about it sometimes with players who have a similar age.’