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May 15, 2013

Alba: Messi risked his fitness for Barca

Jordi Alba says Lionel Messi took risks by playing with a hamstring injury to ensure Barcelona won this season's La Liga trophy.

• Tomas: Evolution, not revolution
• Corrigan on title win
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Messi has not been 100% fit since injuring a muscle in his right leg during Barca's 2-2 Champions League quarter-final first leg at Paris Saint-Germain on April 2, but sprang from the bench to score key goals against Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis to keep his side on track for the title.

After further aggravating the injury in last weekend's 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid, a game played after Barca had been confirmed as champions, the Argentine was ruled out for two to three weeks, suggesting his club season was finally over.

Alba, talking to reporters as he presented a football summer camp for kids in his hometown of Hospitalet de Llobregat near Barcelona, said Messi had been "annoyed" that the injury had not cleared up more quickly and had taken risks when trying to play through it.

"He is the best player in the world," the full-back said. "It is normal that he got annoyed about his injury, but he took risks to be with the team. When he did not play it was because he could not. I do not know about 'Messidependencia' but he helps a lot. On many occasions we depend on him, but we also have other players who are very good."

Barca are now focused on winning their last three Primera Division matches, against Valladolid, Espanyol and Malaga, in order to equal an all-time points record set by Real Madrid last season, Alba said.

"There are three games left and we will try and win them," he said. "We want to equal Madrid's record and reach 100 points."

The Blaugrana players celebrated a fourth championship in five seasons with an open-top bus ride through the Barcelona streets on Monday evening, something which Alba said topped off what had been a good season for him personally.

"It was a really nice experience," he said. "I experienced something similar in Madrid after winning the World Cup, but never at club level. You have a phenomenal time. To sign for Barcelona is maybe the best thing that could have happened to me. We went through difficult moments, but at the end we were able to lift the club to a trophy as important as La Liga."

Asked about potential new arrivals at the Camp Nou this summer, including Santos attacker Neymar, Alba was diplomatic.

"I do not know if [Neymar] will come or not," he said. "He is a great player. In Brazil he is showing he is a different type of footballer. But you would have to ask the board. The coaches and directors will reinforce the team where they believe it is needed. The team looks good to me, with a future and a present."

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