Barcelona news

Zubi finds positives in Messi row

December 23, 2013
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta says the public row between Lionel Messi and director Javier Faus could actually be a positive for the club, while Messi’s father Jorge has again reiterated his son’s commitment to the Blaugrana cause while leaving the idea of a pay-rise hanging.

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Messi surprised observers last week with a very blunt retort to previous comments on his contract situation from Faus -- suggesting the investment banker knew little about how football works.

The public debate even led to speculation that Messi was so fed up with the club's board that he might consider leaving, but the former Barca goalkeeper told Canal Plus after Sunday’s 5-2 comeback win at Getafe that his club was used to resolving internal issues like this.

“What is said is already said,” Zubizarreta said. “What we have to do is not focus on that, but all that we have done in 2013, looking at the good and the bad things. We are a club with a great capacity to learn, and to turn these things into a positive. What Messi said is there, and it is not for me to analyse it.”

Last week, Zubizarreta travelled to Buenos Aires where Messi is currently recovering from a run of thigh injuries, giving him a chance to discuss any issues that might currently exist. He said he would not add anything to comments from Barca president Sandro Rosell who has suggested the attacker would soon be offered a new contract making him the best-paid player in the world.

“I would not add even a full stop or a comma to what the president has said when I was away in Argentina,” Zubizarreta said.

Messi is expected to return to action in Barcelona’s first game of 2014 against Elche at the Camp Nou. Zubizarreta said the recovery was all going to plan, but declined to fix a date for the comeback.

“He is optimistic, he is feeling good,” he said. “The clinical part is over now, and he just needs to get his fitness up. As Tata said we will see where we are when Messi returns to the team. We have not put a date on his return, but we are optimistic that his recovery is going well, and when he returns he will be back to his best.”

Meanwhile, Jorge Messi told Argentine sports newspaper Ole that it was time to move on from the issues between his son and Faus.

“I believe we must close this short chapter now,” Messi said. “Do not look for anything other than a direct response from Leo to some public declarations by senor Faus. What is said is said, full stop, move on. We look forward, not backward. Whenever Lionel says something it always generates a lot of news. We do not want to generate any situation of conflict with the club or the president, and much less with Barca’s fans.”

The row did not show that his son’s commitment to the Barca cause had slipped in any way, Messi senior said, although he suggested he would be happy to discuss a potential pay-rise with the board.

“Leo has grown up in this club and he loves it,” Messi said. “His commitment to FC Barcelona and its fans goes further than anyone can imagine. Nobody can doubt the feeling and respect that Lionel has for this club. This all had nothing to do with a new contract or a pay-rise. We do not try and generate any tension about this issue. If the club calls us, we will sit down with its directors. The barcelonistas must know that his future is bound to Barca.”

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