‘He is fired up and working his socks off’: Lionel Messi’s ‘desire’ to perform for Barcelona despite losing his fight for a transfer is praised by team-mate Sergi Roberto
Lionel Messi is ‘fired up’ and ‘working his socks off’ for Barcelona, according to team-mate Sergi Roberto, despite the Argentina superstar’s well-publicised desire to leave the club during the summer.
Roberto has saluted Messi’s attitude since reversing his decision to exit the Nou Camp and insists the 33-year-old’s hunger to perform for the La Liga giants is as strong as ever.
Messi was embroiled in a transfer saga with the Catalan club as he sought to trigger a clause in his contract that would allow him to walk away for free, ending a near two-decade spell.
Lionel Messi celebrates after forcing Lucas Olaza’s own goal in Barcelona’s 3-0 at Celta Vigo
Sergi Roberto (left) celebrated his goal with Messi and later praised his captain’s attitude
But the forward eventually gave up in his pursuit of an exit to avoid a huge legal battle with the club who disputed the eligibility of the clause.
And following his about-turn he has since sought to draw a line under his efforts to leave, declaring in a recent interview that it was time everyone at the club pulled together.
Messi is now directing his efforts towards helping Barca on the pitch under new boss Ronald Koeman, with defender Roberto praising his captain for a stunning display in the 3-0 win away to Celta Vigo in La Liga on Thursday.
Ansu Fati put the visitors ahead before Messi helped double Barca’s advantage with a shot that bounced off Celta’s Lucas Olaza for an own goal.
Messi had another effort ruled out for offside before setting up Barca’s third after his shot was only half-blocked by Ivan Villar, allowing Roberto to fire in the rebound.
Messi is hailed by team-mate Jordi Alba after helping Barca go 2-0 ahead against Celta Vigo
And speaking to reporters afterwards, Roberto, 28, insisted: ‘Leo is so fired up right now.
‘He ran so much today and played out of his skin for the team.
‘Leo looks plugged in, he’s working hard and it’s great he has so much desire.
‘We’re so happy that Leo is still with us and the fact he is so motivated is a huge boost for us.’
Coach Ronald Koeman also pointed to his skipper’s willingness to sacrifice himself for the team, adding: ‘Messi worked very hard off the ball tonight which was very important for us.
‘Leo worked hard and he was very important. The Argentine is back on board – and that is a great sign for Barcelona.’