Here are Leo Messi’s words in a brief interview after the Copa América game against Colombia:

I would like to play against Paraguay and have the chance to score a goal in the Copa América. It would be fine if I have to rest for that game, but I would prefer to play

Scoring goals is always nice, but what matters is the team’s performance and the results we get

When I step onto a football field, I forget about everything else. I don’t think about the people watching the game. In my mind there’s only me and the ball

Inter Milano’s chairman Massimo Moratti has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Lionel Messi in the past, stating that the Argentinian would be “his dream signing”. However, a couple of days ago Moratti has ruled out the possibility of his club buying Messi for next season, due to FC Barcelona’s definite refusal to get rid of the player:

Messi is not in our plans for next season. He cannot be, because Barcelona won’t sell him

I think Messi, Ronaldinho and Eto’o will all stay at Barça next year. It seems that the club has made the decision not to cash in by selling any of these players for the moment

Released from hospital recently after getting over important health problems, Diego Maradona has made an appearance on Argentinian TV programme ShowMatch. In it the football legend had some words about Lionel Messi, commenting on his progression and the comparisons drawn between Leo’s goal against Getafe and Maradona’s famous 1986 World Cup strike:

My goal was more beautiful than Messi’s. Besides, I scored mine against England in a World Cup quarter-final, while his was against Getafe, with the defenders coming forward to play the other attackers offside. Leo did score a superb goal, but people should not go so over the top about it

Leo is a genius, and he can become a better player than he is at the moment. His potential is limitless. I knew Leo was something special when I noticed the way he moved around with the ball. He didn’t need to look at the ball to keep it stuck to his foot. This is really unusual, and it was the detail from which I could tell he was a different kind of player

He’s a great guy. He’s had his own problems, having to cope with two important injuries. I think Leo’s got everything it takes to become Argentina’s greatest player. If he can become a leader for our National Team, I believe he can take us to World Cup success in South Africa. How do you become a leader? Through your goals and your contribution to the team. You become a leader through your belief in your team-mates and the respect you gain from them

Here is the part of the show when Diego refers to Lionel Messi. It includes a video message from Messi to Maradona, in which the Barça player shows his admiration for el Pelusa, expresses his delight at Diego’s recovery and has words of encouragement for him:

UEFA Magazine has published an interview (which we reproduce here) with Leo Messi. In it the Argentinian discusses several matters including his recent goals, other clubs’ alleged interest in him and the comparisons with Diego Maradona.

I’ve been compared with Diego Maradona several times in my career, and although that makes me feel very proud, I honestly don’t think that a comparison with a player like him is possible

I have to admit that the goal against Getafe was the most beautiful goal I’ve ever scored

This is the club where I grew up so I am very settled here. Right now I find it hard to picture myself in a place that is not Barcelona

Interview | Messi living the dream

Lionel Messi’s 2006 certainly had its ups and downs. He kicked the year off in excellent form, with great performances in La Liga that culminated in what was perhaps the highlight of his year: the Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge. The muscle injury he picked up in March was not only untimely, but also turned out harder to heal than expected. Eventually, Lionel would not be able to play any more games in a season that was tremendously successful for Barcelona: the club won both the Spanish Liga and the Champions League. Then came the World Cup, for which seemingly Messi had been perceived by many in his country as some kind of a saviour. However, he was benched by his coach much of the time, and did not excel in the games he had the chance to play. In the end, Messi’s experience in the World Cup did not live up to the expectations. After the summer a new season started at Barça, and things were looking good for Leo: he crucially scored against Bremen in the Champions League, and also got a few more goals in La Liga. He seemed to be raising his game as the season progressed, but unfortunately another injury halted him and kept him out for the remainder of the year.

The best of Lionel Messi in 2006 is a video in which we have intended to sum up Leo’s year. Continuing with what we started in 2005, this new highlight compilation includes the player’s best moves, goals and moments in the past year.

What I am thinking of now is just doing my best this season with my team, FC Barcelona.

After the elimination, I did not want to watch any more football. I have just tried to switch off and relax. I still believe Argentina should have gone further in the World Cup.

I don’t know if Alfio Basile (the new Argentina’s National Team coach) will use the same players or not. He will probably make a few changes, and changes are a good thing.

Me and Saviola got on very well in the World Cup, both on and off the pitch. It would be nice for me to have a fellow Argentinian in Barça.

-Lionel Messi, speaking to the press at Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, before flying to Monterrey (México), where he will join Barça’s American tour and start pre-season training

Lionel Messi, still on vacation in Argentina, spoke to Diario Sport (Spanish). The Argentinian explained his prospects for next season:

We have a really nice season ahead, with a lot of tournaments and strong competitors. I have the feeling this is going to be my best year. I am more experienced and mature as a football player now. I only hope I can stay away from injuries.

After the World Cup I am looking forward to starting the new season. The World Cup elimination did hurt, but you must always learn from both the good and the bad in life. Now I am just eager to start playing again.

We are still hungry for glory, despite having won the Liga and the Champions League last season. Our mission is to keep up with the expectations, and that is what we will try to do. I would like to win all six titles: that would be a dream come true. But we know this will be a hard season. We must go step by step.

You can read the complete translation of this interview here.

Messi also had some words about Ronaldinho and the young Argentinian Sergio Agüero, who will play for Atlético de Madrid next season:

Ronaldinho is the best player in the world. He was not so brilliant as usual in the World Cup, but he still played some very good games. There’s nobody like him

Agüero has a bright future in Europe. He is a huge player and I am sure he will succeed. He doesn’t seem to feel any pressure when he’s playing

FC Barcelona will play five games in their pre-season tour, starting in Denmark and continuing in North America. Here is an overview of the teams they will be facing:

AGF Aarhus
First rivals for Barça on a game to be played next Friday, this Danish team owns five home league titles and has also won the Danish Cup nine times. However, last season saw them finish in the last place of the table.

This game will be the first in Barça’s “On Tour USA 2006″ tour and will be played in Monterrey, Mexico. The opposing team’s whole name is “Club Tigres de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León”. Their home field is the “Estadio Universitario”. Last year Tigres participated in America’s Liberators Cup -the biggest club team tournament in the continent-, where they could not make it past the round of sixteen.

Chivas Guadalajara
Los Angeles city will host this third pre-season match. Club Deportivo Guadalajara (the team’s whole name) is one of the most popular teams in Mexico and owns ten domestic league titles. Six of their players were selected for the Mexican national team in Germany’s 2006 World Cup.

FC Barcelona will take on this Mexican team on their fourth pre-season game in Houston. One of the greatest teams in the country, America have always played in Mexican first division and have won the league title fourteen times. They also hold the league record for the longest unbeaten streak (28 games, in 2005). The Argentinian Claudio “Piojo” López, remembered by many fans for his great performances against Barça in the past, is now playing for America.

New York Red Bulls
They will be the last of Barça’s rivals on the tour. The clash will be on August 12 at the Giants Stadium in New York. This club was founded in 1995 under the name Metrostars. They finished last in their conference in MLS’s last season.

Lionel Andrés Messi was born on June 24, 1987 in Rosario. He’s turning 19 today!

I would like to wish him a very happy birthday. All the best to you on this special day, Leo.

A new theme park called World Of Football has been opened opposite the German Parliament in Berlin. Among many other things, the 40,000 square meter-park will feature giant screens on which the World Cup matches will be shown. A huge image of Lionel Messi is one of the stand-outs in the place.

Source: (spanish)

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