Football

I couldn’t see Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona: Miralem Pjanic

Barcelona's new signing Miralem Pjanic said at his unveiling yesterday that he could never imagine Lionel Messi playing for another club.

Messi claimed earlier this month he had been forced to stay at Barca after he and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu disagreed over a clause in his contract.

"I could never see Messi playing in another shirt," said Pjanic, whose move from Juventus was confirmed in June.

"For me, it was impossible and I always thought everything would eventually work out.

"My hope was to play with him. I met Messi two or three days ago but I haven't yet been able to train or play with him.

"I have been lucky enough to play with players like Cristiano Ronaldo and (Francesco) Totti, but I want to enjoy playing with this whole team.

"All 25 of us will be important and I believe in the spirit of the group."

Pjanic's transfer from Juve to Barcelona was part of a financial operation involving Arthur going the other way, allowing both clubs to boost their profit figures for the year.

Barca said they paid 60 million euros (S$96.8m) plus a potential five million euros in bonuses for the Bosnian playmaker, while Juventus would pay 72m euros plus 10m euros in variables for Arthur. - AFP

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