Lionel Messi won't rule out Barcelona winning the treble for the second season running but insists the ultra-talented squad is more than just his partnership with fellow strikers Neymar and Luis Suarez.
Messi also outlined his international ambitions with Argentina, stressing his desire to win the Copa America.
Speaking at the launch of his partnership with mobile brand Huawei on Thursday, per Jordi Gil of Spanish publication Sport, Messi confirmed he and his team-mates are committed to winning a second treble of the La Liga title, Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League: “Nothing can be ruled out, we depend on ourselves and all the time there are less games left."
But Barca's free-scoring talisman insisted his team-mates will take a steady, humble approach: “We are taking it game by game, step by step, winning and we are going to try and achieve everything.”
Barcelona's bid for all three trophies has been spearheaded by the most devastating attacking trio in the game. But Messi was quick to emphasise the team's success is owed to more than just him, Suarez and Neymar: “I don’t think we depend on the three forwards, it’s a really deep, good squad and there’s a lot more than just three players, we have impressive players. We help in attack and defence, but the team doesn’t depend on us."
While Messi is being a good team player, it's hard to accept his view Barca doesn't depend on the front three. How could it be any different when, according to Squawka Football, Messi himself has now scored as many goals this year as vanquished Champions League opponents Arsenal?
Squawka Football @Squawka
Goals scored across all competitions during 2016: Lionel Messi (24) Arsenal (24) https://t.co/fkM5Al2GlJ3/16/2016, 9:32:54 PM
Speaking of Barcelona's progress in Europe's premier club competition, Messi said his team will fear no draw but will also be aware of the challenges left in the tournament: “Whoever we draw we will accept, there’s no rival you’d choose. What will be will be and it’s going to be really difficult whoever we draw.”
The way Barca are playing this season, it's hard to envisage any of the remaining Champions League teams giving them too much of a headache, despite the presence of heavyweights such as Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
The latter have the best chance of springing an upset, thanks to the quality of their passing game under former Barca manager Pep Guardiola. But as Messi pointed out, a strong spirit and a winning mentality always make Barcelona dangerous:
There are players in the dressing room who have won everything, but they maintain the same motivation. That’s the most positive thing: the desire to keep winning and the good atmosphere.
There’s not just a good atmosphere among the trident, but across the whole dressing room. The humility that this dressing room is the base of the success.
When you consider the presence of highly decorated players such as Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves, Messi has a point. These players have won everything at both club and international level yet consistently remain determined to claim more big prizes every season.
That's a way of thinking that would surely help Messi at the international level, where he has been part of an Argentina team beaten in both a World Cup and a Copa America final during the last two years.
He addressed the pain of those defeats: “The World Cup and the Copa America final defeats still hurt. We were close to becoming champions, but we missed out by a small margin.”
But Messi assured fans Argentina are keen to make amends in the next Copa America: “We are going to fight for everything and that is what we are doing."
Messi needs top international honours to end any lingering doubts that he is by far the greatest player of his generation and maybe the greatest ever.
His status as club legend is already secured, but a second treble would certainly make for a fitting exclamation mark.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!