Lionel Messi on Laporta comments: Nobody asked me to play for free

SPORT EXCLUSIVE

The Argentine star spoke to SPORT in an exclusive interview from his Paris residence

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Lionel Messi spoke to SPORT from his house in Paris, talking about his departure from and love of the club.

From Barcelona to Paris. Camp Nou to the Parc des Princes. A big change, right? 

Honestly, yes. It was a huge change that, as I said at the time, I didn't imagine. Luckily I am comfortable, the kids are now in school, we more or less have the day-to-day routine installed. We're happy. 

Two months have passed since you left Barça. Have you got used to it? 

Yes. Until today, when I see the games, it generates things or it makes me want to... Or I remember things from games in Camp Nou, with the fans. It's reliving a little of what was before. Now, as I said recently, I am more relaxed, more settled in and, obviously, thinking about everything I have here and what's to come in a sporting and family sense. We're also enjoying the city, which is wonderful despite the climate. We were lucky to have a nice climate also (in Barcelona), other than rain and cold, but we're really happy. Honestly.  

Laporta commented he thought you might play for free. Would you have done it if they asked? 

The truth is, as I explained when I left, I did everything possible to stay. Never at any moment did they ask me to play for free. They asked me to reduce my salary by 50 per cent and I did it without any problem. We were willing to help the club more. My desire and that of my family was to stay in Barcelona. No one asked me to play for free but at the same time, the president's words were inappropriate. It hurt because I don't think there was any need to say that. It's like taking the ball off you and not accepting the responsibility or taking charge of things. That makes people think and generates all types of doubts that I don't think I deserve. 

Have you spoken with Laporta since?

No, no.

Will you return to Barcelona when your PSG contract ends in two years? 

I don't know if I will when my contract expires. What is almost confirmed and certain is that we're going to return to live in Barcelona and our life will be there. It's what my wife wants and what I want. I don't know if it will be when my contract's up in Paris, but we will return to live in Barcelona. 

And Barça?

Yes. I always said that I would love to help the club and be useful. I would love to be a sporting director at some point. I don't know if it will be in Barcelona or nor. Or if it will be something else. If there's the chance, I would like to go back and contribute what I can because it's the club I love and I would love them to keep doing well, growing and being one of the best in the world. 

How do you see Barça at the moment? Do you think they can win trophies this season? 

They have a great squad and play really well. I watch them whenever I can. Some important kids have appeared who are very good, in Gavi's case. The team's level is good. With the return of Kun Aguero and Dembele, if he comes back well, that will be a huge help for the team. They're always going to be there because they're one of the best in the world. They're always going to fight for LaLiga and their other objectives, even if they don't win them. 

Do you still have a relationship with your old teammates? 

Yes, I speak with Kun Aguero, who wasn't a teammate at Barça but is a close friend. With Busquets and with Jordi Alba as well. 

Did you feel supported by them when you left? Did anyone disappoint you? 

No, disappointed no, because I know them all so well. Those that I expected to support me did so. I took them all by surprise, like me. They were by my side supporting me the whole time.

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