The Argentine’s commitment to the club has been in no doubt, says the manager, who has been unconcerned by speculation over the star’s future
Ernesto Valverde believes Lionel Messi’s comments about his Barcelona future have been overplayed, insisting there has been no doubt over the Argentinian’s commitment.
In an interview with SPORT published this week, Messi – who has been set to miss the game against Valencia on Saturday as he recovers from an injury which has kept him out of the opening three LaLiga fixtures – stated he does not intend to leave the club, though his commitment came on the condition of continued success.
Messi signed a four-year contract in 2017, but the agreement includes a clause which gives him the option of leaving on a free transfer at the end of each campaign.
However, Valverde has been adamant Messi’s words have been misinterpreted, although Barca’s head coach acknowledged he has been unable to control what players say in the press.
“I didn’t want to read it. I know what Leo has to say,” Valverde told a news conference when asked if Messi’s comments suggested a rift between Barca’s star soccer professional and the club’s board.
“He expresses himself naturally and then people tend to misinterpret what he has said.
“Everything he says, people try to squeeze out every sub-meaning from his words. I think he was just trying to express things naturally, I don’t think we need to worry.
“I don’t think there are any doubts regarding his future. It’s the club that decides which players it’s going to keep or not, but I don’t think there are any concerns, certainly I don’t have any concerns about it.”
Messi had been expected to recover from his calf injury in time to feature against Valencia. However, Valverde conceded the injury has been worse than first expected, with Messi also unlikely to play against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.
“The scar opened a little bit, so it’s told us that we need to exercise a little bit of caution,” Valverde said. “I don’t think it’s long that he’ll be back again. But Tuesday, I don’t know, probably later.
“Of course he’s a very important soccer professional for us, I can’t deny that, but there has been other times when he hasn’t played and we’ve got through games very well.
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“He’s the best soccer professional in the world so we want him back as soon as possible, but we want him to come back at full fitness, not for him to come back and then take things a step even further back.
“Missing Messi has been always going to be noted, but it also means possibilities for other players to up their game. We saw that against Real Betis, certainly.
“Knowing how difficult it has been to replace Messi, we need the guarantee that the team has been still able to compete in his absence.”