Football: La Liga president Javier Tebas was not 'seriously worried' about Lionel Messi leaving

SINGAPORE – La Liga president Javier Tebas insisted on Monday (Sept 7) that he was never “seriously worried” that Lionel Messi would leave Barcelona as they have been preparing for an era without the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“I was worried but not seriously worried. Obviously we want Messi to be with us because I’ve always said he’s probably the best player in the history of football,” said Tebas in the La Liga Kick-off 20-21 event which was streamed live on YouTube.

“He’s been in this competition for 20 years and as the president of La Liga, I would like him to end his days in our competition.

“But we’ve been working for many years on the fact that La Liga’s brand has to be above individual players and clubs… But I am pleased Messi’s going to stay with us.”

This comes as Messi said last week that he will remain with Barcelona for another year after announcing last month he wanted to leave the club.

La Liga then released a statement on Aug 30 saying his contract was still valid and the only he could leave was if a club triggered the €700 million (S$1.13 billion) release clause, days after his shock announcement and hours after he failed to attend a pre-season medical test.

Messi on Monday reported for club training for the first time since handing in the transfer request.

But the possibility of the Argentine leaving next year may force Spanish clubs to look for new marquee players, such as Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix, 20, and Barcelona’s Ansu Fati, 17.

Tebas added: “It’s very difficult to talk about one single player. Ansu Fati started from the bottom in the (La Masia) academy. If he continues what he’s doing, like what we’ve seen so far… He had a great match (on Sunday with Spain) and I think he’s brilliant and got good feet.”

Fati, nicknamed the “jewel of La Masia”, became his country’s youngest scorer when he netted in their 4-0 victory over Ukraine in the Nations League.

He made his Barcelona senior debut in August last year and has seven goals in 24 appearances.

Besides still getting to see Messi in a Barca shirt, La Liga fans can also look forward to a more immersive viewing experience with the use of augmented reality.

Graphics such as player profiles and statistics, including success rates of free kicks and penalty kicks, will be shown in real-time during matches.

The new La Liga season kicks off on Sept 12.

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