Lionel Messi hopes for turnaround
BUENOS AIRES -- Lionel Messi, the world's highest paid player, arrived home on Tuesday, saying he was not having his best moment, but hopeful to turn things around with Argentina for the World Cup.
Messi, who on Monday signed an improved contract with Barcelona through June of 2018 worth a reported 20 million euros ($27 million) per season, again echoed comments he made via a Chinese social media site that 2013-14 had not been his best season.
"I have arrived with the national team and I am flipping the switch. Many times it was the opposite, I would go to Barcelona and play well, this time we hope the reverse is true," he told reporters at Ezeiza airport. "When I get together on the pitch with my friends (on the national team) it is going to be a different story."
The four-time Ballon d'Or winner said he was not the only Barcelona player to struggle this season.
"It wasn't one of my best years," he said. "I would have liked to have seen a different finish, but it was a little bit of a struggle for the entire team."
Regarding his new contract, Messi said the Barcelona club "is my home, but the day they no longer want me, I will go. But my home will always be Barcelona.
"I love the club very much. If there are people who doubt that and want me to go, I don't have a problem," he continued. "Sometimes on the pitch you hear comments, I already said, I don't have a problem."
Messi's previous deal, which contained a 250 million euro release clause, was due to end in June 2018. Those details reportedly remain unchanged, but Spanish media reports have claimed he will receive a pay rise from 13 million euros to around 20 million euros ($27 million) net a season.
The Argentina international is the club's all-time leading goalscorer, having netted 354 times in 425 appearances for Barcelona.
Argentina debuts at the World Cup on June 15 vs. Bosnia in a Group F that also includes Iran and Nigeria.