January 27, 2018

MESSI TARGETS BARCELONA TITLES OVER SIXTH BALLON D'OR

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The mercurial Argentine forward maintains that collective honours at Camp Nou mean more to him than adding to his haul of individual prizes.

Lionel Messi insists a sixth Ballon d’Or does not form part of his personal target list, with collective honours at Barcelona of greater importance.

The mercurial Argentine remains locked in a fierce battle with eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the right to be considered the best player on the planet.

Real Madrid’s talismanic forward has got the better of that duel in recent years, claiming back-to-back Ballons d’Or and four of the last five prizes.

Messi is emerging as an early favourite to reclaim that title in 2018, with 26 goals to his name in all competitions this season , but the 30-year-old superstar maintains that his focus is locked on the collection of team titles.

He told reporters at a sponsor’s event: "I've already said my objective is not individual prizes but to get all the trophies available.

"Hopefully, we will finish [the season] in the best way. I think we're on the right track.

"Luckily, things are going well. I'm happy with how things are going, although there's still a long way to go. It's the same [goal] as every season: to try to win everything."

Ernesto Valverde is the man hoping to guide Barca to multiple honours this term, with the former Athletic Bilbao boss having succeeded Luis Enrique at Camp Nou.

Valverde endured a difficult start to his reign, with Neymar leaving for Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million in a turbulent transfer window, while the 2017-18 campaign began with a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana.

Barca have only lost once in all competitions since that tie, though, and Messi is delighted with how things have gone under a new regime.

He added on Valverde’s impact: "It was clear from the start. He said what he wanted and we adapted. It wasn't very different to what we were already doing.

"We became strong defensively and we have players of high quality further forward, who can win matches."

Messi is even content with Valverde's rotation policy, insisting he accepts it is for the team's benefit.

"It's a topic I live with normally and calmly," he said.

"The coach decides it. We talk about it and I have no problem with rotation, just like other team-mates."

Messi is also pleased to have seen Barca bolster their ranks during the winter transfer window with deals for Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina, especially in light of Javier Mascherano's move to Hebei China Fortune.

"Both Coutinho and Yerry could have come in the summer but they weren't able to," he said.

"Masche is leaving and we have a centre-back to replace him and we're happy that's the case. We're happy they are with us."

The mercurial Argentine forward maintains that collective honours at Camp Nou mean more to him than adding to his haul of individual prizes.

Lionel Messi insists a sixth Ballon d’Or does not form part of his personal target list, with collective honours at Barcelona of greater importance.

The mercurial Argentine remains locked in a fierce battle with eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the right to be considered the best player on the planet.

Real Madrid’s talismanic forward has got the better of that duel in recent years, claiming back-to-back Ballons d’Or and four of the last five prizes.

Messi is emerging as an early favourite to reclaim that title in 2018, with 26 goals to his name in all competitions this season , but the 30-year-old superstar maintains that his focus is locked on the collection of team titles.

He told reporters at a sponsor’s event: "I've already said my objective is not individual prizes but to get all the trophies available.

"Hopefully, we will finish [the season] in the best way. I think we're on the right track.

"Luckily, things are going well. I'm happy with how things are going, although there's still a long way to go. It's the same [goal] as every season: to try to win everything."

Ernesto Valverde is the man hoping to guide Barca to multiple honours this term, with the former Athletic Bilbao boss having succeeded Luis Enrique at Camp Nou.

Valverde endured a difficult start to his reign, with Neymar leaving for Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million in a turbulent transfer window, while the 2017-18 campaign began with a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana.

Barca have only lost once in all competitions since that tie, though, and Messi is delighted with how things have gone under a new regime.

He added on Valverde’s impact: "It was clear from the start. He said what he wanted and we adapted. It wasn't very different to what we were already doing.

"We became strong defensively and we have players of high quality further forward, who can win matches."

Messi is even content with Valverde's rotation policy, insisting he accepts it is for the team's benefit.

"It's a topic I live with normally and calmly," he said.

"The coach decides it. We talk about it and I have no problem with rotation, just like other team-mates."

Messi is also pleased to have seen Barca bolster their ranks during the winter transfer window with deals for Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina, especially in light of Javier Mascherano's move to Hebei China Fortune.

"Both Coutinho and Yerry could have come in the summer but they weren't able to," he said.

"Masche is leaving and we have a centre-back to replace him and we're happy that's the case. We're happy they are with us."