Lionel MESSI: “I hope football pays its debt to me”

Lionel Messi football Argentina

Argentina captain Lionel MESSI spoke to FIFA.com about the World Cup, football and much more.

Lionel MESSI sat down with FIFA’s official website to discuss the disaster (which would have been) of missing out on the 2018 World Cup, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, whether football owes him and more. Here’s the full interview:

Lionel MESSI talks football with FIFA.com

Looking ahead to Russia, where are Argentina in relation to teams like Germany and Brazil?

Lionel Messi: We’ll be in good shape when we get there because we’re still growing. We had to go through something that we didn’t expect or deserve, because we had earlier matches against Venezuela and Peru that we could have won easily. If we had, then we wouldn’t have had to go through what we did at the end. We’ve had four competitive matches with a new coach, but the national team’s going to change now that the Ecuador game’s behind us. It’s going to grow and it’s going to get rid of all the tension and fear it felt because of that match and because of the risk of not achieving our objective. The national team’s going to change a lot.

Were you surprised Chile failed to qualify?

Yes, like everyone else. After all, Chile won the last two Copas America and they’re a side that’s grown used to winning. They’re a great team with very good players. But it just goes to show you how difficult the South American qualifiers are, because nobody gives you anything. It’s not easy to go and play away in Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and all the other places where you have to go, not least Brazil. There’s less and less of a gap between teams and it’s getting more and more difficult to reach the World Cup.

Have the wounds of Brazil 2014 healed?

No! I don’t know if they’re ever going to heal. We’re just going to have to live with it. It’s going to be there forever. The World Cup is a very happy memory and a bitter one too because of how it ended, how it all worked out. But it’s always going to be there.

How are you feeling now you’ve turned 30? Are you where you thought you’d be?

To tell you the truth, I never thought about how I’d be feeling when I got here. But I’m very happy with both my personal life and football. I’d say I’m in good shape on and off the pitch. I’m very pleased with where I am right now.

Lots of things change as time goes by. Has your football changed too?

Yes, of course. You grow, and as time goes by you improve as well, picking up new things along the way. As I’ve grown older I’ve grown on the pitch too.

Argentina’s national team can see that for itself. Where would you rank the qualifying match against Ecuador in your international career?

It was very important because missing out on the World Cup would have been a huge blow, firstly for the squad as a whole and then for me on a personal level. I don’t know how I would have taken it. The same goes for the people of Argentina. Failing to make Russia would have been an all-time low for the country.

Given the importance of the match, was it a performance that you think you had to give?

No, I don’t know if I had to give it. I’ve had some really good games with the national team. What I can say is that with the way things turned out it was a very important and special moment for me.

After Argentina qualified for Russia 2018, coach Jorge Sampaoli said that football owes Messi a World Cup. Did you hear that and what do you make of it?

Yes, I did hear it, and he said it to me too. I hope football does end up paying me! (laughs)

Talking of the World Cup, we have a little challenge for you. Can you complete the following sentence? In 2018, Lionel Messi will be…

(Thinks) I’ll be a father for the third time!

18 Comments

  1. Gonzalo.

    I think that’s only matter of time when players like Bustos, Meza or Barco will play for NT.

    1. EnganChe

      By the way, there are some rumors linking Tagliafico to various clubs for a January move, from Napoli to some undisclosed destination in Germany.

      1. Gonzalo.

        As captain of this winner he should get offers now.

  2. Gonzalo.
    1. Dadir10

      Thanks Gonzalo!

  3. Gonzalo.

    I only wish that last game of Copa Sudamericana was on Independiente stadium – for the atmosphere we have seen weeks ago:

    youtube.com/watch?v=nU4YFZz8m9g

  4. EnganChe

    Independiente defeated Flamengo and won Copa Sudamericana yesterday and did it on Brazilian soil, no less, at the famous Maracanã, where Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany. Captain Tagliafico lifted the cup. They could have won by a big margin had Gigliotti not been wasteful in front of goal. Barco, Meza and Tagliafico played well…

    1. Gonzalo.

      Great! Also because it’s my fav club at all. There’s plenty players of Independiente that are followed by Sampaoli: Bustos, Tagliafico, Franco (called up for cancelled game against Bolivia), Sanchez Mino, Meza, Barco, Togni (U-20 player).

      I hope it’s just beginning of come back El Rojo to winning cups again.

      1. Gonzalo.

        Togni is not on Sampaoli’s radar of course yet, but he is good prospect for future.

  5. anuparno

    Mammana is an interesting prospect I think otamendi mammana rojo/mori can b 3 CB in 3-4-3 diamond

  6. anuparno

    I am really concerned about Argentina defense we all saw how vulnerable Argentina defense is against Nigeria conceding 4 goals is awful that’s why I feel we may need very good dm in starting eleven and off course mascherano should be dropped to bench he is the biggest weak link in defense right now slow short plus not gonna get any playing time at barca so mayb he will b short of match fitness

  7. anuparno

    How is battaglia performing?? Any chance he is included in wc squad?? I hope lamela will be fit he may help and lanzini or lo celso is vital for Argentina midfield

  8. Dadir10

    Can you complete the following sentence? In 2018, Lionel Messi will be….A WC winner! That’s how I completed it.

    Leo did all he could for Argentina and now it’s time football pay its debt to Messi.

    Congrats to Indepentiente! I hope Barco goes to Europe (esp. Portugal or Germany).

    How was Barco’s performance last night? @Gonzalo, did you watch the game?

    1. msi75

      Barco will go to the MLS… Under Martino.

      I havent seen the game, but heard he had a masterclass of a performance past night. Especially compared to the overhyped Vinicius Jr.

      1. Dadir10

        If he really had a good game last night he may end up in Europe. You know, European clubs can offer more than Atlanta can do. Many European clubs were watching Barco’s progress lately and they may consider kidnapping his potential move to Atlanta. He has to go to Europe if he wants to reach the next level of his career.

        1. msi75

          He has been already sold to Atlanta…

          1. Dadir10

            If the deal is closed then it is sad to hear that. I always wanted to see him in Europe but he is still very young although going to the MLS can be a real set back to his career development.

      2. Gonzalo.

        Dadir, yes I have watched. Not only Barco with good game, There’s more from Inde to watch.

        Yeah, that’s another interesting point: our Barco was better than biggest Brazilian talent.

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