Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi has opened up on the difficulties he faced adjusting to life at Barcelona earlier in his career.
Messi joined the Blaugrana at 13 back in 2000 and, after being promoted to the senior side four years later, went on to become the greatest player in the club’s history, racking up 672 goals in 778 games before his eventual departure in 2021.
Barcelona are interested in re-signing Messi this summer – 90min understands the Argentine is prepared to take his time to decide his next move – and if they do manage to bring Messi back, they’ll hope his second arrival at the club goes easier than his first.
“I struggled in the dressing room but once I got on the pitch the problems were over. I missed going out on the street and playing like I used to do it in Argentina,” he told Universo Valdano.
“Personally and in terms of football, coming to Barcelona was an extraordinary change. When I was in Argentina, I only ran but I hardly played with the ball. Then I came to Barcelona and all the training sessions were with the ball.
“I had a very difficult year. I was six months without being able to play and when I came back, I was injured again. One day, my father asked me if I wanted to go back. I said ‘no’. I had done the most difficult part, which was adapting.”
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan & Jack Gallagher to look back on France ’98 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!
Messi went on to discuss what he felt was the turning point in his career: the 2005 Joan Gamper Trophy clash with Juventus, in which he played a starring role as an 18-year-old.
“Before the Gamper I had already done the pre-season with [Frank] Rijkaard in Asia,” he recalled. “At that time, [Rafael] Marquez, Ronaldinho, and [Samuel] Eto’o were playing for Barça. That Gamper against Juve changed everything. It changed the look of the club towards me.
“Ronaldinho, Deco, [Thiago] Motta, Sylvinho, Xavi, [Carles] Puyol…they all made me feel like one of them from the start. The way they treated me was great. It’s not easy to come into a dressing room like that and be able to integrate normally.”