‘Messi is by far the best player in the world’

Barcelona, Jun 8 (IANS) | Publish Date: 6/8/2020 10:22:37 AM IST

Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong believes Lionel Messi is by far the best footballer on the planet and when the Barcelona talisman speaks, he just listens.

“If Lionel Messi is talking and giving you advice you take it as he is by far the best player in the world,” Barcelona defensive midfielder de Jong told Guillem Balague for BBC Radio 5 Live’s European Football Podcast in an exclusive interview. “If he gives advice, you listen. Sometimes he says you have to be deeper or to the side, small things but it makes the difference.”

On unarmed American man, George Floyd, who died recently after a police officer had his knee on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis, de Jong said, “It makes you feel really sad that there are still things like this. I can’t imagine people thinking this way, it’s really strange.” “In our dressing room we have players from South America, Holland, Spain, everywhere in the world and we’re coming together - the colour of your skin and where you’re from doesn’t matter. Sport can play a big role (in the fight against racism) as you can reach many people.”

Barcelona returned to training in May with La Liga set to resume on 11 June following an absence of more than three months because of the coronavirus pandemic. De Jong, 23, said life is not the same with the global health crisis around.

“I didn’t have the virus but life isn’t how it used to be,” said De Jong. 

“I don’t think it has changed me as a person. I’ve spent a lot of time with my girlfriend, we were in Holland and we could go out - the situation was a bit more comfortable than in Spain. When we were training in separate groups we had to wait before the others left, I couldn’t say ‘hi’ to them, that was really strange.”

“Training is intense and maybe we’re better than when we stopped. I’m feeling there is something special coming.”

“It was my dream to play for Barcelona,” said De Jong. “They were my favourite club outside of the Netherlands. When they came and showed they were really interested they made the choice easier.”


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