Friday, May 27

Messi in Messi’s mirror | sports


Messi celebrates with Pedri Barcelona's second goal against Athletic.
Messi celebrates with Pedri Barcelona’s second goal against Athletic.AFP7 via Europa Press / Europa Press

In the summer of 2019, Messi insisted that he wanted Neymar to return to Barcelona. What for many directors of Josep Maria Bartomeu’s board was a whim, that the Rosario asked his friend to return to the Camp Nou, turned out to be an example of understanding the game of 10. “It doesn’t give us to win the Champions League” , Messi complained. And in Lisbon, Barça suffered the worst humiliation of his life in Europe, 2-8 against Bayern. The result, embarrassing, ended up convincing the captain that his time at the club was over. But in the middle of the row between Bartomeu and Messi, in the offices of the Sports City there were those who were optimistically observing the future of the captain. “If he stays, he can be the leader of the new generation, that of Ansu, Dembélé, De Jong, Pedri and Eric García, if we can sign him,” they assured from the sports area. Eric Garcia, for now, has not returned; but Messi begins to have fun with the new litter, especially with Pedri.

The departure of Ernesto Valverde sharpened the disputes in a squad that had long been atomized. The goodbye of Luis Suárez and Arturo Vidal left Messi without his last two great allies in the locker room. To make matters worse, the Rosario had to stay against his will at the Camp Nou. The 10 was seen alone in the Sports City, sometimes accompanied by Jordi Alba, usually under the care of his old pal, Pepe Costa, head of the player service office. “I had a really bad time. Then I dragged him a bit at the beginning of the season ”, explained the Rosario to Jordi Évole. The Bartomeu jail for Messi began in the offices and moved to the field. At 33, the football of the 10 seemed off.

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The statistics in Messi’s first eight games in LaLiga would be very good for any other player; insufficient, however, in the shadow of his past. Messi had scored three goals (two from penalties) and had an average of 2.25 shots on goal per game. In fact, his hit ratio for the number of shots was six. Last season (25 goals in 33 games), for example, it was 2.84, while in 2011-2012, when he scored 50 goals in 37 games, it was two. “We can’t miss that much,” Koeman complained. The Dutchman, in any case, had no complaints with the attitude of his captain. “I have no difficulties to carry Messi. I talk to him about the game or about things in the dressing room, ”said the Barça coach.

More success

Messi was not Messi and Barcelona, ​​which had long been used to living off the left-handed player of 10, was moving away from the fight for LaLiga. Little by little, the rage of the last summer began to be erased from Rosario and, although he knows that the Barça squad cannot aspire to reign in Europe, he has fun with De Jong and Dembélé, essentially with Pedri, waiting for Ansu Fati recovers from the meniscus injury in his left knee. “Today I’m fine, wanting to fight seriously for everything that lies ahead. I am excited. I know the club is going through a difficult time, but I’m looking forward to it, ”said the captain.

“The best way to know how Leo is doing is to look at what he’s doing on the pitch,” says a Barça employee. In the last eight games for Koeman’s team, the Rosario has tried an average of 3.6 shots on goal (an average of 1.5 more per game) and has been more successful: 4.8. Which translates to six targets. To which we must add his only two assists of the course. “Its effectiveness now is a bit higher than at the beginning. He’s really looking forward to it ”, celebrates Koeman.

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Still far from the numbers that led him to dominate world football, Rosario has already climbed to the top of the scorers’ table – he won the last four pichichis, he has seven in his career – with nine goals, like Luis Suárez, Aspas and Gerard Moreno. While waiting to know the name of the new president and thus be able to begin to decipher his future (his contract expires in June and from January 1 he is free to negotiate with another club), Messi is no longer a stranger in his own mirror.


elpais.com

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