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Messi: It's all about the Barca team

Lionel Messi has said the Barcelona team will always be more important than any individual after his best-ever personal season saw him score an astonishing 73 goals - but the big prizes elude his club.

Messi shone but Barca lost the Primera Division title to rivals Real Madrid, while Chelsea defeated them in the Champions League semi-final.

Although Barcelona lifted the Copa del Rey, the World Club Cup and both the European and Spanish Super Cups, the Argentine said they had still been disappointed but could make up for that next season.

"What Tito Vilanova [the new Barcelona coach] has done in these two days [since training began] is exactly what Pep did in his four years," he told Marca. "The same hard-working people remain, everything is equal and we start in the same way.

"I am not looking to beat my level of goals. This isn't my objective. My objective is to win titles, and this, for us, is fundamental."

He warned that Barcelona would have to "fight to the end" if they were to reclaim the title from Real and said he would continue trying to improve his own performances, adding: "I try to improve every year. I try to continue my level and continue growing with the team and the players we have."

Meanwhile, Vilanova - who was Guardiola's assistant throughout his time in charge - said life without his mentor at the club would initially seem odd.

"Guardiola and I spent five years together and the first days seem strange, but we have to get used to it because this is what we will encounter all season," he told AS.

The 42-year-old said he was tired of people talking about the controversial confrontation between himself and Jose Mourinho when Barca played Real in the Spanish Super Cup last season. They face them again next month.

Vilanova's one-game ban and Jose Mourinho's two-match suspension from last season's preliminary have been overturned, but the TV footage showing Mourinho poking him in the eye continues to be shown.

"After a year we are still speaking about the Super Cup with Mourinho and I am tired of it,'' he said. "The punishment they give us is not one game or two. The biggest punishment are the images that will be seen for many years to come.''


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