The club captain refused travel guides to Manchester and Paris during an hour-long interview but admitted Barça are ‘in a really, really bad way’

In four days’ time Lionel Messi can begin negotiating with any team he likes, but he won’t. That’s the good news for Barcelona fans, and there is more. Like the Argentinian declaring “I feel good now, enthusiastic”, describing the arrival of Ronald Koeman as coach as a “great choice”, and insisting that the “difficult, terrible” summer in which he tried to force his way out is “behind me”. Or the fact that he called Barcelona “my life” and his connection to the club “a relationship of love”.

Many of those settling in to watch Sunday night’s hour-long Christmas TV interview – a kind of King’s Speech only significantly more important – did so in search of optimism, reasons for hope. If they really looked hard – and they did – they might also have found it in how Messi talked about his problems in the past tense and his desire for the new president to return Barcelona to winning ways. They could cling, too, to the ousting of the former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who Messi said had “conned” him and briefed against him, and whose handling of Luis Suárez had been “mad”. With Bartomeu gone, maybe things can get back to normal.

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