A Camp Nou colleague of the mercurial Argentine claims to have seen no dip from the South American on the back of his efforts to leave the club
Lionel Messi may have wanted out of Barcelona over the summer but he is now “fired up” and “working his socks off” for the good of the collective cause at Camp Nou, says Sergi Roberto.
A testing end to the 2019-20 campaign saw the six-time Ballon d’Or winner push for the exits in Catalunya.
Messi had grown disillusioned with life at the only club side he has represented in a remarkable career to date.
A path leading elsewhere was to be blocked off, though, and the decision was ultimately taken to stay put and honour the final year of his contract – with that revelation made in an exclusive interview with Goal.
There was never any danger of Messi downing tools at Barca, with competitive spirit very much part of his makeup.
The 33-year-old has helped the Blaugrana, who are now working under the guidance of Ronald Koeman, to make a positive start to the 2020-21 season, with back-to-back La Liga wins collected from meetings with Villarreal and Celta Vigo.
Roberto sees a talismanic figure giving his all in the pursuit of major honours, telling reporters after a 3-0 victory over Celta: “Leo is really fired up, he ran so much and worked his socks off for the team. It’s important that he’s playing with so much desire.”
Messi was disappointed to see Barca sanction a move to Atletico Madrid for Luis Suarez, but he has found another productive partner in 17-year-old Ansu Fati.
The highly-rated youngster was on target again in his latest outing, with Roberto adding: “Ansu is young, playing, scoring goals and I’m really happy for him, I hope he continues doing that.”
Positivity is starting to flow again at Camp Nou, with Koeman helping to banish the memories of a humbling 8-2 Champions League defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich which brought Barca’s 2019-20 campaign and the reign of Quique Setien to a close.
Roberto said of the current mood: “You can see how united we are. We showed it in the first game and again [versus Celta].
“We couldn’t go into games like we were.
“We worked really hard in pre-season, in every training session and you can see that in the games.”
Barca – who have been drawn alongside Juventus, Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros in the Champions League group stage – will be back in action on Sunday when playing host to Sevilla.