Atletico Madrid president Cerezo: Messi staying with Barça benefits La Liga

SPORT EXCLUSIVE

Messi is out of contract in June and could leave Barcelona for free

| sport

Ivan San Antonio

Enrique Cerezo spoke to SPORT ahead of Atletico Madrid's visit to Camp Nou this weekend to face Barcelona in a decisive game in the title race. The Atletico president spoke about Barça and about Lionel Messi, the best player in the world...

Barça are struggling in Europe, too... 

It was a shame they were knocked out of the Champions League, like Atletico, because I would have liked a final between two Spanish teams. They deserved it. Among the three (Spanish teams) at least two deserved it.

From the outside, do you like Koeman?

I knew him as a player and now a coach, but it's Barça who have to make these decisions. What does it matter to you if I tell you that I like him a lot? It's not worth anything.

Understood. And no need to ask about Simeone...  

I always give the same answer: when he wants to leave, he will leave. And for as long as he wants to be, he will be with us.

What does Cholo mean to the club?

He's the coach that has given Atletico the most trophies, the coach that has won the most games, the coach that's been at the club the longest time. I don't know what you want me to say on this subject.

If there's going to be a statue...

He already has one.

Really?

Yes, yes, he has one.

Messi still doesn't.

He's the best player in the world and I think Barça should hold on to him, whatever the financial conditions, which aren't of interest to us. But for the Spanish league, Messi playing here is an attraction. For the 20 teams that compete in the top division in this country.

If you had to pick one player, other than Messi, which Barça player would you pick?

Pique. I like him because he's a fun guy and, apart from that, a brilliant centre-back.

Do you like VAR?

No, no. I don't like it. It's a nuisance in every game. It doesn't work at all, but as a large part of the league like it, I just have to put up with it.

What don't you like?

It's a system that delays games, that delays the emotion of celebrating goals and then, after all that, the referee makes fewer mistakes than the VAR. And as I think that referees are fundamental to the game, I think that this system, the VAR, discredits the match officials.

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