BARCELONA

Messi on Cristiano move: "Real Madrid lost 50 goals per season"

Lionel Messi spoke to Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo where he reflected on a wide array of topics, ranging from the social media controversy to Valverde's departure.

Messi on Cristiano move: "Real Madrid lost 50 goals per season"
GORKA LEIZA DIARIO AS

Leo Messi has spoken publically for the first time since reports emerged that Barcelona hired a PR firm to create social media accounts aimed at tarnishing the image of him, Piqué and others associated with the club.

Spanish radio station SER was the first to break the news of the social media accounts, which were also allegedly used as a tool by PR firm, I3 Ventures, to prop up the image of Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu and the board.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Bartomeu admitted the club had hired I3 Ventures but strenuously denied the allegations the club had done so to improve his reputation and that of the board, while also damaging the image of Messi and others such as Guardiola, Xavi and Víctor Font.

Bartomeu speaks at a press conference on Monday.

Messi: Bartomeu told us the same thing

Bartomeu also convened a crisis meeting with the players and, according to Messi, the president repeated the same line he had taken in public.

“It really took me a bit by surprise because I wasn't here and I was just travelling. When I got back I learned a little about everything,” the Argentine forward said in an interview with Catalan daily, Mundo Deportivo.

“The president told us the same thing he said in public; the same thing he said at the press conference. What was the situation, what had happened and I can't say much more. Just as you know everything he said, he told the captains the same in private.”

Lionel Messi in action against Getafe last weekend.

Messi bemused by Barcelona controversy

Messi went on to express his bemusement with the situation, but declined to add much more until more facts had come out.

“I really find it strange that something like this has happened. But they also said that there would be evidence. We will have to wait to see if it is true or not. We cannot say much and we will wait to see what happens with all of this. I really thought it was a strange subject.”

...on Valverde 

The Rosario born striker was was also asked about former Barça coach Ernesto Valverde.

"He was not just a great coach but also a fine person... we, as the team were more to blame than him but it's easier to fire the manager than change the players. Against Atlético Madrid we had the game almost in the bag and then just five minutes later we were out of the Spanish Super Cup. This was instrumental in things finishing they way they did and it really is a shame."

CR7 leaving Real Madrid 

Have Real Madrid lost a great deal with Cristiano's departure?

"They have lost a great source of goals. That's something obvious but he did offer plenty of other aspects but when a side loses a source of 50 goals a season, you're going to notice that. Madrid do have fine players but Cristiano was a guarantee to bag 50 goals per campaign.

Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo

Abidal Sport interview   

What did you feel when you read sporting director Eric Abidal's recent comments.

"I really don't know what he was thinking but I answered back as I felt that I was being attacked... Far too much has been said about the power of players at the club and that we run everything, have the power to sack managers and bring in players".