Lionel Messi has confirmed he never wishes to leave Barcelona, as long as he is wanted at the Camp Nou, reported by the club's official Twitter account:
The Argentinian maestro—who scored twice during Wednesday's cameo return in La Blaugrana's 4-0 Copa del Rey win over Getafe—has quashed rumours of a potential exit with a simple statement after Barca's victory, per Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail:
"My dream is to finish my career here for as long as people want me," said Messi.
By "people," Messi could be talking about Barca vice president Javier Faus, with whom he recently endured a public argument after the board member claimed he is looking for a pay rise with his next contract—reported by John Percy of The Telegraph.
Messi's quote is more likely a retort toward Paris Saint-Germain, who are reportedly considering a world-record bid for the 26-year-old, according to French newspaper Le Parisien and via Yahoo! Eurosport.
Although Barcelona initially struggled with Messi's absence—losing two of their first three games after his injury was confirmed, per WhoScored.com—a run of seven wins have placed Gerardo Martino's men in a favourable position across all competitions as we head toward this season's crunch time.
Tata's men are joint top of La Liga on 49 points and face Atletico Madrid on Jan. 11 in a clash that gives either side the opportunity to take sole leadership of the Spanish top flight. The win over Getafe all but confirms Barca's progress into the Copa del Rey semi-final, while a challenging round of 16 Champions League tie with Manchester City awaits on the horizon.
Both Martino and the fans will hope Messi can regain full fitness in time for the first leg on Feb. 18, especially considering he has managed to rack up 14 goals in 14 appearances across La Liga and Europe this campaign, recorded by WhoScored.com.
Barca's immediate attention must be on Atletico, who pose a real threat at the domestic summit. Martino now has to decide whether he leaves Messi on the bench—possible considering he isn't 100 percent fit just yet—or place him in the starting lineup potentially at the expense of Cesc Fabregas.
Fabregas also notched a brace against Getafe and has been in excellent form this season.
Graham Hunter, Sky Sports football pundit and Spanish football expert, believes the Calatan giants are yet to consistently hit full stride this campaign, but Messi's return could galvanise the side's ruthlessness at this vital time:
While Messi has certainly fallen behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the running for this year's Ballon d'Or prize, the four-time winner hasn't harmed his chances of receiving recognition after proving so deadly on his much-anticipated reappearance.
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