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"I can't see Leo ending his career at any club other than Barça"

Logotipo de AS AS 19/04/2014 Moisés Llorens

Barcelona coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has backed Lionel Messi to see out the rest of his playing days at the Blaugrana outfit.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Liga BBVA match against Athletic Bilbao (21:00 CET), Martino said: “I can’t see Messi ending his career at any club other than Barça.”

Competing until the end: “We feel the blow we took last week; in truth it was three blows. But we won’t give in because those at the top could get a result that favours us and we must compete until the end.”

Falling at the crucial point of the season: “There has to be an analysis of the last five or six years, not of the last two. But the team has always competed. Indeed, it won the league last season.”

Are thoughts turning more to next year? “No, I don’t have that feeling. All we need is one slip-up from the teams above. The deficit is bigger because of what has happened than mathematically.”

Future: “I didn’t say I had made a decision. I said that winning or losing doesn’t change how I see the situation. I have nothing to communicate.”

Fans: “Because people have got used to a winning team, maybe impatience comes earlier than normal. But turning that situation around is in our hands.”

Messi: “I talk to the players every day, but I haven’t had a special meeting with any of the players.”

Changes: “When you look over the squad and its age, I think it’s ideal to continue competing. There are always players who come in and leave, winning teams do that too. But when you see the age of the players, there is no need for wholesale changes.”

Losing to Athletic: “Any negative result would give the impression that it’s over. We’re not depending on others slipping up, but on making sure we win ourselves.”

Awkward opponent: “They’re a high-quality opponent and on top of that you have to take into account the week we’ve had. Both are relevant factors.”

Barcelona coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino. © Fernando Zueras Barcelona coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino.

Personal situation: “I’m not satisfied at all with the job I’ve done. But in this situation we still have a chance. Nothing positive can be taken from being knocked out of two tournaments and only having an outside chance in the other.”

Remainder of the campaign: “We have to keep in mind that we have a chance and that a slip-up from one of the teams above would be very useful to us.”

Neymar injury: “We’re without a top-quality player. It’s hard to see him playing another game this season. I’m not optimistic about his chances.”

Messi future: “For me and for 99% of people in the football world, it surprises us that people talk about Messi’s future. Players forget about contractual issues when they play games like the ones we play. Players sometimes play very well and sometimes don’t, but you shouldn’t attach importance to that. Because it’s him, it takes on a proportion that is hard to understand, but it’s harder to understand people talking about his future. I can’t see Messi ending his career at any club other than Barça.”

Athletic aerial threat: “That’s their chief characteristic. They have a very good aerial player in [Aritz] Aduriz and players making runs into the box in numbers. Stopping them out wide is the solution.”

Next season: “I think all my attention has to be on this season. I think it would almost be betraying the group to think about next season. I have to give my all for this season.”

Morale: “It’s hard to raise, because a group that is used to winning has been on the end of some big blows. We have to put in a huge effort.”

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