May turn midfielder in future: Messi

Barcelona, Aug 10 (IANS) Argentine football icon and FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi on Monday said he has got an out-and-out option of turning into a midfielder once his usefulness as the centrifugal force in the Spanish side’s attack diminishes.

“I am open to play in any position on the pitch if it helps the team. A lot of players drop deeper when they move into the later stages of their career, and that’s certainly an option for me, to become an out-and-out midfielder,” Messi was quoted as saying by goal.com.

“I have played in midfield a lot already, and I cover a lot of ground there. I am happy to play as a forward, as a deep forward, in the middle. There are many players who have prolonged their careers by playing in a different place, where maybe you don’t rely on being so explosive all the time, on your speed.”

The four-time world footballer of the year also said that he has a soft spot for former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, under whom the Catalans won multiple European Champions League and La Liga titles.

Guardiola is currently in charge of German giants Bayern Munich.

“It is quite odd seeing him in the opposition dugout. Everyone knows what a great relationship that I have with him, and I will always be grateful for what he did for me, how he developed me as a player, the teams that he built. I will always wish him luck,” Messi said.

The 28-year-old, however, was quick to add that his warm feelings for Guardiola went for a toss as soon as Barcelona faced Bayern.

“But obviously, when you play against somebody, you freeze those personal feelings out for the duration of the game. It is all about winning, for me and him,” he said.

Messi also seemed happy with how football in Europe is becoming all the more competitive these days with the heavyweights improving further.

“Pep is doing great things with Bayern Munich and is creating a team similar to the one he had at Barcelona, but with different players, and subtle differences. We want strong competition within Europe, so I am happy that Pep is creating another powerhouse of a side that can compete against the La Liga teams,” Messi said.

“Juventus have also done brilliantly, and you cannot underrate Italian teams. Italian teams were dominant in Europe for many years, and have had a difficult time recently, but they are showing that they can still compete.

“English Premier League and French League are also investing in good players and the national leagues are very competitive.”

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