| Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero during a practice session, in Buenos Aires, on Tuesday. Argentina take on Ecuador in a World Cup qualifying match, on Saturday |
Buenos Aires: Lionel Messi has told reporters that he was “surprised and saddened” by the departure of Pep Guardiola from Barcelona after four years in charge at the Camp Nou.
Messi, 24, gave his first public comments on the managerial changes at the club, expressing his sadness at Guardiola's exit. However, the Argentine was quick to offer his backing to successor Tito Vilanova, who has already played a role in the club's success in recent years.
Guardiola's era at the helm came to an end last weekend, with a comprehensive victory over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey - the 14th trophy of his reign. Messi, though, holds some regrets over missed opportunities.
“I was surprised and saddened by Guardiola’s departure after four great years together with many titles. It won’t be easy after all that Pep achieved, but they did everything together and Tito was a great help in these years,” Messi said.
“We were close to winning the league and the Champions League. I am madder about the Champions League because I think our elimination was unjust and also for missing that penalty. But this is already behind us. I am very happy for all the goals I have scored. I want to keep learning, growing and improving.”
The 24 year old was allegedly caught off guard at a press conference when a reporter asked him about the speculation that he is expecting a child with girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo. Messi has refused to either confirm or deny the reports, keeping a low profile regarding his personal life.
Talking ahead of the qualifier against Equador at Buenos Aires, Messi said that he wanted to win no matter what. "I want to win, no matter how it occurs. Let's have a 4-0, so we don't suffer too much," was the Argentine's eventual answer.
Meanwhile, Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute has lavished praise on Messi as he believes the Barcelona star has no equal even amongst his own Camp Nou team-mates.
The Argentine netted a record-breaking 73 goals in all competitions in 2011-12, and Kanoute feels that triple Ballon d'Or winner is "not a normal player".
“He is not human; he’s from another planet. I’ve played against him several times and he’s incredible – he’s not a normal player,” Kanoute stated.
“In the same way that there’s Barcelona and the rest of the world, there is also Messi and the rest of the Barca players. He does things that only he is capable of doing. He’s exceptional.”
Kanoute then voiced his opinion that Pep Guardiola's team are the best Barca side ever.
“In a few years’ time, when I look back and think that I competed against Guardiola’s Barcelona, I’ll realise how lucky I was to have played against the best team Barca ever had.
“I don’t usually like watching football on TV that much, but when Barca are playing I make an exception. The world of football has been lucky to have this team.”