Messi committed to Barcelona on condition of success

By Sports Desk September 12, 2019

Lionel Messi wants to remain at Barcelona for as long as the club can satisfy his hunger for trophies.

Barcelona captain Messi is in his 16th season as a first-team player at Camp Nou, having made his LaLiga debut in October 2004.

The 32-year-old signed a fresh four-year contract in 2017 but the agreement has been revealed to include a clause which gives him the option of leaving on a free transfer at the end of each campaign.

Messi, who denied being in talks over a new deal, does not intend to leave, although his commitment comes with one key condition.

"What I can say is that I want to be at Barcelona as long as possible," Messi said in an interview with SPORT.

"I've said throughout my career that this is my home. But I also don't want to have a long-term contract and only be here because of it. I want to be here because physically I'm fine to play and be an important member of the squad.

"And as I said before, I need to see there's a winning team because I want to keep winning things at this club.

"For me, money or a clause don't mean anything. Other things motivate me and the most important thing is having a winning team."

He added: "Obviously, I want to win and I want to win at this club. This is my home. I don't have any intention of going anywhere but I want to keep competing and winning."

At the top of his wish list is a fifth Champions League crown.

Messi and Barca looked set to end a four-year European drought upon reaching the semi-finals last season, only to give up a three-goal first-leg advantage as they crumbled to defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.

Ernesto Valverde's job was called into question but star forward Messi, while adamant the club "must" win the Champions League, absolved the Blaugrana boss of blame.

"When these things happen, everyone thinks the worst because we didn’t complete our objectives," the 10-time LaLiga winner said.

"Something similar happened in the previous year too, although I believe it was worse on this occasion.

"As I said in the moment, we [the players] are to blame. The coaching staff had nothing to do with the performance we put in.

"Until that moment we had a great season, dominating the league from the first moment, making the final of the Copa del Rey.

"It was more an issue with us than with the coaching team."

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    Gracia and Emery shared the Real Sociedad dressing room as players in the mid-1990s and their relationship played a part in the latter's appointment at Arsenal in 2018.

    "When the possibility opened up to sign here, the first coach, the first person in the football world I called was him," Emery said.

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    Watford, FA Cup finalists last season, immediately turned to Quique Sanchez Flores to fill the post.

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    ROUND-UP

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    - Seemingly unwanted at Juventus, Mario Mandzukic's future remains a talking point. Qatari club Al-Gharafa have offered €6million net per year to the striker and can meet Juve's demands, according to CalcioMercato, which reports Los Angeles FC are also interested in the Croatian despite the MLS transfer window not reopening until February.

    - Inter are already looking to lock down a couple of stars. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants want to extend the contracts of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic – until 2022 – and forward Lautaro Martinez until 2024. The report says Inter would also double Martinez's salary from €1.5m to €3m per season amid interest from Barcelona.

    - Sam Allardyce is ready for a return to management. The Sun reports the former England boss, who left Everton in May last year, is eyeing a return to Sunderland if the reported takeover by an American consortium is completed.

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    Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde described Ansu Fati as "something special" after the teenager starred in a 5-2 win over Valencia on Saturday.

    Making his starting debut, Fati needed just seven minutes to have a major impact at Camp Nou, opening the scoring before setting up Frenkie de Jong for Barca's second.

    Fati, aged 16 years and 318 days, became the youngest player to score as a starter in LaLiga history, and the youngest player to both score and assist in a LaLiga game in the 21st century.

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    Fati set up Barca's victory before a second-half goal from Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez brace lifted Valverde's side onto seven points from four LaLiga games.

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    Barcelona sit fourth in what is a congested top half of the table, trailing Atletico Madrid (nine points), Real Madrid (eight) and Athletic Bilbao (eight).

    As for his side's performance, Valverde praised Barca's second-half display at home.

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    Barcelona are back in action on Tuesday, visiting Borussia Dortmund in their opening game in the Champions League this season.

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