Lionel Messi bid an emotional farewell on Friday to Luis Suarez, the day after the Uruguayan striker had said tearful goodbyes to Barcelona after the club sent him to Atletico Madrid.
“Today I went into the dressing room and the awful truth hit me,” Messi posted on Instagram, before renewing his criticism of club management.
“You deserved to be sent off as what you are: one of the most important players in the history of the club,” Messi wrote. “And not to be fired in the way they did it.”
“The truth is that at this point nothing surprises me anymore.”
Messi has a long-running feud with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu which intensified after Barcelona were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern in a Champions League quarter-final in August.
Messi tried to force his exit from Barcelona but finally accepted that he would have to see out the final year of his contract. Meanwhile, two of his closest friends on the team, Suarez and the Chilean Arturo Vidal have left.
The 33-year-old Suarez moves to Atletico on a two-year contract on a free transfer, although, if he does well, Barcelona could receive some money.
Suarez, who hit 198 goals for Barca, becoming the third highest goalscorer in the history of the club, cried as he bid an impromptu farewell to the club on Thursday.
“I’m going to keep playing, with fresh motivation, with the objective to show I can continue competing,” Suarez said.
“Everyone knows the relationship we have, Leo and me. I’ve already played against him in the Uruguay-Argentina matches, playing against each other is not going to change the feelings we have for each other,” Suarez said.
Messi and Suarez were neighbours in the beachside suburb of Castelldefels and would arrive at training together.
“How difficult it is going to be not to continue to share the days with you, both on the pitch and off it” wrote Messi in a post accompanied by seven pictures of the two men together, sometimes with their families. “We are going to miss you very much. It’s been many years, many cups of mate, lunches, dinners…Many things that I will never forget.”
“It’s going to be weird to see you with another shirt and much more to face you,” wrote Messi. “But I wish you all the best in this new challenge. I love you very much, I love you very much. See you soon, my friend.”
Inter Milan Must Sweat To Show We Are Contenders, Says Conte
Inter Milan head coach, Antonio Conte, warned against complacency and urged his players to show they are credible Serie A title contenders ahead of Sunday’s home clash with relegation battlers Crotone.
Conte’s team, who finished as runners-up last season, cut the gap to league leaders AC Milan to just one point before the 10-day winter break, thanks to a run of seven straight league wins.
That form has put Inter firmly in the mix to end their 11-year wait for a league title, with defending champions Juventus languishing nine points behind them in sixth.
“We must confirm our place among the contenders,” Conte told a news conference.
“We don’t have to send any message, just be credible. We have the duty to fight until the end. When you’re at Inter, this is an obligation.
“It’s a balanced championship. You need to sweat to win every match and there are no easy games.
“In the end important values like hard work and organisation will stand out, things that make you excel and win.”
Inter are favourites to come out on top against Crotone, who are in 19th place having won just twice since being promoted from Serie B.
However, one of those victories came in Crotone’s last match before the break and Conte insisted he will not be underestimating the threat of the visitors.
“We’re expecting a demanding match, as I think they all are in Serie A,” he said.
“We’re facing a team that has been galvanised by finishing last year with a win against Parma.
“This match will require a lot of focus. Starting again after the holidays is always a great unknown, but we know the importance of continuing our positive streak.”
Pirlo Warns Juventus Players Never To Repeat Fiorentina Display
Juventus coach, Andrea Pirlo, has warned his players not to repeat the poor performance they produced during their shock 3-0 defeat against struggling Fiorentina in their last match before Serie A headed into its Christmas break.
The Italian champions, who face Udinese on Sunday, slumped to their first league defeat of the season against Fiorentina.
The result left Pirlo’s side 10 points adrift of league leaders AC Milan, albeit with a game in hand, putting their nine-year stranglehold of the Italian title at risk.
“We talked about the game against Fiorentina, we got it completely wrong,” the 41-year-old, who is in his first season as a manager, said.
“It was a good meeting and we discussed our future objectives. It was productive.
“I don’t want to see any more matches like the one with Fiorentina.
“We’ve otherwise made some progress and improved in many aspects, but I’m convinced it can be even better.”
Udinese also headed into the winter break following a 2-0 defeat to Benevento but Luca Gotti’s side were unbeaten in six league matches before then.
Hence Pirlo is not taking the challenge lightly.
“I’m expecting a difficult match, Udinese are on a good run of form and are a very well organised and physical team with players who are very good on the counter attack,” he said.
“The team is eager to redeem itself after the last defeat. We’ve got almost all our players back, so we’re setting out to restart the league season strongly.”
Kane, Son Doing ‘Special Things’ – Mourinho
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are doing “special things” for Tottenham Hotspur this season, manager Jose Mourinho said.
This was following the dynamic duo both scoring in a 3-0 win over Leeds United that lifted Spurs to third in the Premier League on Saturday.
Kane gave his side the lead from the penalty spot — his 10th league goal of the season — then combined with Son who doubled Tottenham’s tally just before halftime.
It was Son’s 100th goal for Tottenham and the 13th time this season that the pair had combined for a league goal, equalling the whole season record set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton for Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95.
“I think in the Premier League there are many good players everywhere even in clubs where you don’t believe they can have great players,” Mourinho said.
“But I have to say that Sonny and Harry are doing special things this season.
“They are very good players as you know for many years.
“I want more goals, especially from other players but today the second goal is great, is also great because it was something we spoke about against a team that defends the way Leeds does.”
While the scoreline rather flattered Tottenham against a Leeds side who enjoyed 64% possession, it snapped a four-game winless sequence in the Premier League and sent Mourinho’s side back into the top four of the table.
They are in third spot with 29 points from 16 games, four behind joint-leaders Liverpool and Manchester United.
“Of course the result is important.
”We didn’t play the last match and the run of results in the least few weeks was not good so we needed these three points so we go up a little bit in the table,” Mourinho said.
Tottenham’s game in midweek was postponed after Fulham players tested positive for COVID-19.
This is a decision that Mourinho still find puzzling on the day that three of his own players were condemned for breaking the rules to attend a party.
“I go back to the initial rules of if you have 14 players available you have to play,” Mourinho said.
“I don’t see another reason for not doing it. I think every club does the best for their players to keep them all safe but then there are moments in private lives which you cannot control.
“Not everyone can be blamed so we have to carry on. If somebody has some positives, we have to play.”
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