Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi said that his focus is not on winning individual awards but to help the team win trophies. The Argentine playmaker has scored 19 goals in 20 matches and is the top scorer in the Spanish league with his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo nowhere near to been seen this season despite bagging all the awards.
Goal machine Lionel Messi has also lauded FC Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde and says that the Spanish manager deserves all the credit for the Catalan's club improved performance this season.
Valverde, who joined the club this summer after former coach Luis Enrique resigned, has built an 11-point lead at the top of La Liga, reached the Champions League round of 16 and qualified for the semifinals of the Copa del Rey. Barcelona are unbeaten in the Spanish League but suffered their first defeat in the Copa del Rey against Espanyol in the first leg of the quarterfinals, but the Valverde coached team fought back to make it to the semis.
"Since the new coach's arrival, he was very clear from the beginning about what he expected from the squad and we adapted fast to his instructions," Messi said at a promotional event.
"We became defensively stronger and in the attacking line we have high-quality players," the Argentine superstar said.
Messi said that he was optimistic about Barcelona's season, noting that the club is still alive in all competitions. The Catalan giants have been rampant this season and their level of confidence will be put to test when they square off against English defending champions Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner said that the squad was delighted with the arrival of Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina, who joined the club during the winter transfer window.
Asked about the possibility of winning another Ballon d'Or, he said: "Individual awards are not my aims. My aims are the team's ones and thank God we are on the right path."
FC Barcelona will next host Alves on January 29 at the Camp Nou.