The wave of shock from Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus seems to have also affected Lionel Messi’s opinion on the balance of power in football. “I could never imagine him outside of [Real] Madrid, and even more so the destination being Juventus”, said Messi during an interview for Catalunya Ràdio. “[Real] Madrid is a less of a Champions [League] favorite without Cristiano”, he added.
On top of his undermining belief on post-Ronaldo Real Madrid, Messi expressed his confidence that Juventus now stands on a Champions League contender’s pedestal with the Portuguese on their team. Although having been surprised by the move at the time, Messi said that he understood Cristiano’s choice, while acknowledging Juventus’ weight among top-tier teams and their selection of world-class players.
The comments didn’t go unnoticed by Real Madrid’s manager, Julen Lopetegui, who unsurprisingly dismissed Messi’s comments. “Don’t doubt [Real] Madrid for a second”, stated the Spanish boss shortly after Messi’s interview was broadcasted. Lopetegui added that he had respected Ronaldo’s desire to move out of Madrid in June, and confirmed that appropriate measures have been taken to assure success.
Lionel Messi is himself at least once a year subject of transfer options, as different teams continuously come up with various offers for his services. However, in the interview for Catalunya Ràdio he alluded to not wanting to leave Barcelona anytime soon, as he expects to win the Champions League trophy once again with the Catalans; this time as their captain.
After mentioning the disappointing quarterfinal elimination in the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League edition, Messi expresed confidence that this could very well be Barcelona’s year. “It’s about time we win the Champions [League]”, added he, laughing.
He didn’t forget to mention the meaningfulness of the captain’s band at Barcelona and how important it would be for him to lead the Catalans to ultimate European success. With Andrés Iniesta’s departure towards Japan, the captain’s band now belongs to him, a responsiblity he carries with pride.
Undoubtedly, Ronaldo’s move has stirred up matters in European football. Competition is expected to develop for the best, as powers are now distributed among a greater pool of teams, in a tight race for glory. By considering Real Madrid handicapped and Barcelona with a refreshing transfer window, Messi sees a possbile path to a fifth Champions League title, this way also tying Ronaldo at European successes.
Cover photo: foottheball.com
Signing photo and info source: ccma.cat/catradio
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