Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane does not want to see Lionel Messi leave Barcelona at the end of this season.
Ahead of Saturday night’s Clasico, the prospect that this could be Messi‘s final time coming up against Real Madrid in a Barcelona shirt has begun to dawn on people, yet Zidane hopes that is not the case.
“I don’t want it to be Messi‘s last Clasico,” Zidane said during Friday’s pre-Clasico press conference.
“Let him stay, let him stay at Barcelona. He’s good there. It’s good for LaLiga if he stays.”
Curiously, Messi has not scored in a Clasico since Matchday 36 in the 2017/18 campaign, when Barcelona drew 2-2 with Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.
“We know what a player Messi is. He may not be scoring goals, but we know what a player he is,” Zidane noted.
“We are going to play against Barcelona. It’s true that we know what a player he is, but they are all very good. We’re going to try to stop their strengths, because there have a lot.”
Sergio Ramos is another player with an expiring contract, yet Zidane is clear about what he wants to happen with the Real Madrid captain.
“Hopefully it won’t be his last Clasico and he stays here,” he stated.
Vinicius Junior was the star of the show in midweek, as he scored a brace in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win against Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
“We are happy with Vini. Eden [Hazard] can’t be there [for the Clasico]. We have had problems with injuries, but we have a big squad and everyone is committed,” Zidane commented.
“We are enjoying Vini, but we have to leave him alone. We don’t have to talk too much, he’s very young. He’s calm and I’m glad, because there’s a lot of noise.”
Given how tight things are at the top of the table, if Real Madrid lose the Clasico, are they out of the title race?
“No, and I’m not thinking about that,” Zidane said.
“We are going to give our all, and we are positive.
“Atletico are the ones with the advantage and we are all going to have to play for [the title] until the end. I’ve been saying that for a long time.
“It’s a very competitive and very good league. We won’t know who the champion is until the end. There are a lot of points still to be played for.”