Lionel Messi arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday to join the Argentina national squad preparing for the two upcoming 2010 World Cup qualifying games against Ecuador and Brazil.

Leo spoke to the press at the airport, reasserting his desire to play both the Olympic Games in Beijing and the Champions League qualifying round with Barça in August:

I would love to be in both places, and I hope there will be no problems. I would like to represent my country in the Olympics and also help my club. I want the best for the two sides

The Argentine forward hopes his country’s recent bad streak against the Brazilians -including the defeat in the 2007 Copa América final- will be broken:

It’s about time for Argentina to beat Brazil

Finally, Messi had some words about the situation at FC Barcelona:

We have reached the end of a cycle at Barça, but the club has already signed a couple of new players and I think the prospects for next season are very good

The 2007/08 season in Spanish football came to an end yesterday as the last matchday of La Liga was played.

FC Barcelona wrapped up their disappointing year with an away victory against Murcia (5-3) and finally only managed the third spot on the league table, behind Real Madrid and Villarreal. The Catalan team’s performance was better in the cup competitions -they reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and the King’s Cup- but overall Barça were clearly not up to the fans’ expectations. After leading the team to winning two league titles and one Champions League in five years, Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard will leave and Pep Guardiola, one of the most important players in Barça’s history, will take over.

Leo Messi’s season had ups and downs and was hindered by two important muscle injuries, due to which Lionel could only play 37 games in total in the three competitions (League, Champions League and King’s Cup). The Argentinian forward scored 16 goals, finishing as the team’s second best scorer behind Thierry Henry (18), and proved to be Barça’s most proficient player when it comes to setting up goals with 14 assists. Following the end of Barça’s season, Leo will probably play for Argentina in the summer Olympic Games in Beijing, although this has not been confirmed yet.

After it was confirmed that Frank Rijkaard will leave FC Barcelona at the end of the current season and Pep Guardiola will take over, Lionel Messi had some words for the Dutch coach, who brought him into the club’s senior squad:

I’m very grateful to Frank Rijkaard. He has done a great job at Barça. The problems we’ve had clearly weren’t all his fault. The fans gave him the farewell he deserved yesterday at the Camp Nou

Messi also reflected on Barça’s disappointing performance this season:

It hasn’t been a good year for us; we aimed to contend for all the trophies and we couldn’t get any of them in the end. After two trophyless seasons in a row, we are obviously affected

The Argentine forward commented on the recent rumours regarding Chelsea’s interest in signing him:

I’m very happy at Barcelona. If there is any truth to all those speculations, all I can say is I am grateful and proud to know that a big club like Chelsea may be interested in me

Finally, Lionel confirmed that he will be playing for Argentina in the Olympic Games this summer:

I have talked to Barcelona and everything has been settled, I will be in Beijing to play the Olympics

FC Barcelona claimed their widest win of the season (6-0) against Valencia yesterday at the Camp Nou. This victory was not of much use though, as the blaugranas remain third on the Spanish league table and look highly unlikely to qualify directly for next year’s Champions League. The side coached by Frank Rijkaard is four points behind second-place Villarreal with only three games to go.

In a game completely dominated by Barça, Lionel Messi found many opportunities to shine with his dribbles and passes. Leo scored the opening goal -his tenth in the current league season- through a penalty kick that was awarded for a foul committed on himself following one of his trademark runs with the ball. The Argentine also collaborated in the setting up of some of the other goals, scored by Xavi, Henry(2) and Bojan(2).

Meanwhile a ten-man Real Madrid came from behind to beat Osasuna away (2-1) and win the domestic title for the second straight time. The next league date will see Barça and Madrid clash with each other in the clásico at the Bernabéu on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi spoke to the press following Barcelona’s exit from the Champions League last Tuesday at Old Trafford:

We did everything we could, we gave all we had on the pitch, but things just did not turn out right for us. Now we must fight to reach the second spot on the domestic league in order to qualify directly to next year’s Champions League. We must keep our standards high and finish the league properly.

I’m not going to leave Barcelona. I don’t know what other team-mates will do, but I want to stay at the club.

We have been knocked out of a competition that holds the best teams. We couldn’t score the goal we needed in the end, but we played better than the opponents did. We held our heads up high.
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