Barcelona star Sergi Roberto has revealed how the players reacted when they heard Lionel Messi wanted to leave the club.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner shocked the footballing world when he sent a burofax to the Nou Camp chiefs saying he wanted to find pastures new.
It sparked a whirlwind of speculation as a link-up with former boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City was most hotly touted.
But Messi performed a U-turn at the start of the month after crisis talks with the club saw them come to an agreement for the year.
And Roberto, who has played with the 33-year-old in Spain for 10 years, said the team were just as surprised as everyone else to hear of their captain’s desire to leave.
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Speaking to Spanish outlet RAC1, the midfielder said: “I thought the same as all the Catalans, that it could not be true that Messi did not continue with us.
“I cannot imagine a Barca without Leo and I crossed my fingers so that he would stay. I see him training very well.
“He is a very professional player and I have no doubt that he will always give 100 per cent for this shirt and this club.”
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was at the centre of the drama – and has now opened up on how the pair have left it.
“I won’t get into any conflict with him. He’s our captain and the leader of our team,” he told Catalan television network TV3.
“I couldn’t let him leave the club, he is the best player of all time and the team needs him. Having Messi is a guarantee of success.
“We have seen him do his talking on the pitch and we have moved on from the saga. We should congratulate ourselves for getting Messi to stay with us and for how he has behaved in the last few days. The best player in the world should stay at our home.”
Among the clubs Messi was linked with, his former agent has said he was “tempted” to play for Arsenal.
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