LaLiga: Lionel Messi's future will depend on Barcelona elections and sporting project, says former Real Madrid captain Fernando Hierro
Former Real Madrid defender and captain Fernando Hierro spoke about Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and the on-going LaLiga season where Atletico Madrid are in command.
Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona and his stay in LaLiga has been subject of debate ever since he handed a request to leave the club. A club he has been part of since 2001 and is now the captain of having scored 648 goals. In the end, he decided to stay but with the contract running out in the summer, it remains to be seen whether the Argentine sticks around with the Catalans.
Former Real Madrid defender and captain Fernando Hierro believes Messi's future could be decided by the upcoming presidential elections at Barcelona and the subsequent project.
“Messi came to Barcelona as a young Argentine player. Clubs go through lots of processes of rebuilding themselves. They have the elections. I think who becomes the new president and what sporting project and plans the president comes in with may also have a bearing on his decision. It is his decision but I, like many others, would surely love to see him continue to play in Spain,” said Hierro, the LaLiga ambassador, during an interaction.
Hierro sounded optimistic over the future of the league and it's marketability while pointing the exits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. “Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo also left. The Clasico, the derbies, the competitiveness all make LaLiga a worldwide spectacle. The structure and project LaLiga is, it is above individual players.”
Another key player who could be on the way out amid contractual disagreement is Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos. Asked if Madrid should focus on keeping Ramos, Hierro said, "Without a doubt, Real Madrid should look to keep Ramos at the club. He has been putting in fantastic performances and is a great leader on the pitch. He is a true professional.”
“Because of what he means for Real Madrid, his leadership, his performance. He is at an extraordinary level at the moment," Hierro went on to add.
In LaLiga, Atletico Madrid opened up a four-point lead after their 2-0 win at Sevilla and have two games in hand over second-place Real Madrid and third-place Barcelona. Essentially that's a 10-point gap between Atletico and the challengers with Diego Simeone's side losing just one game so far.
“Atletico Madrid have been the most regular (consistent) team till now. (But) the calendar is very demanding this time. Real and Barcelona will play the Super Cup this week. Then, there is the Copa del Rey from where Atletico were eliminated. Once the Champions League resumes, you will have games every three days. So, teams have to be at a very good physical level but mental health will be important too,” said Hierro on the season ahead.
Real Sociedad, currently fifth in the table, had occupied the top spot until Matchday 13 spurred on by Mikel Oyarzabal's goals and assists and a strong defensive record. Hierro heaped plenty of praise on the Basque club as one of the teams to vie for the title.
“Real Sociedad have surprised me the most because there are many lively players. I like Sevilla a lot too. Villareal started off well. Real Madrid and Barcelona are always there. Of course, they started a bit low and it is difficult with all the competitions in Champions League and Super Cup. Villareal is another team. Atletico Madrid are consistent and that is why they are four points clear at the top of the table,” said the former Valladolid man.
Hierro, who saw Isco as a youngster during his time as sporting director with the Spanish football federation and Malaga, talked about the need for continuity for the Real Madrid midfielder but conceded the battle for spots is tough.
"I think he needs a bit more confidence. He needs more continuity, needs to feel more important. For me personally, he's a player that I love. Since he was 15, I've seen his career, his evolution, and I think he's a great player. And for me, personally, I like him. I think he's a very top-quality player, and he's different from others."
"When you play for Real Madrid, they're a really, really competitive team. So you have to give 120 percent at Real Madrid. To get a place in the team is very, very difficult. There's young people like (Marco) Asensio, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo, (Karim) Benzema, (Toni) Kroos, (Luka) Modric and (Eden) Hazard. I think there's just a lot of competition at the club."
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