Argentina international defender Cristian Romero has confirmed that former Barcelona captain Lionel Messi wanted him to sign for the Catalan giants in the summer transfer window before the captain’s shock departure from the Camp Nou.
Romero and Messi were part of the Argentina squad that won the Copa America in Brazil in July, and the youngster told Radio AM 550 that the 34-year-old was keen for him to leave Serie A side Atalanta for Barca, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“That Messi thinks of me as a teammate, that he wanted to take me to Barcelona is something impressive,” he said. “The team that PSG put together is crazy, I’m a bit sad because Leo left Barcelona. I wish him the best, he is an excellent person and hopefully he can win everything together with the other Argentines who are there.”
Romero was linked with a move for Barcelona but ended up leaving Atalanta and joining Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur instead on a season-long loan. The deal includes a purchase option set at a reported €50 million (£42m/$59m).
The 23-year-old defender also offered his thanks to Messi for helping him feel at home with the national team. He added, “I am grateful to Messi and to everything I shared with him and the entire group of the national team. In the group, the first day they made me feel as if I had been there for years, those things mark the kind of group they are.”
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Romero Explains Why He Chose Spurs Over Barcelona
Romero has also spoken about why he opted to move to Tottenham over Barcelona. The Argentine told AS that he was aware of interest from the Catalan giants but was keen to play in England, as reported by Football.London.
“Yes, yes, I knew about it, but I ended up deciding on Tottenham because they were firm from the first day. I wanted to play in the Premier League, I decided from a football point of view,” he said. “With even more strength, more goals, to continue growing. That was why I decided to come to Tottenham, it will give me more experience, a great club, I will be able to play in the best league in the world.”
Barcelona has endured a difficult transfer market due to the club’s well-documented financial problems. The issues eventually led to Messi leaving the club after Barca confirmed they could not renew the captain’s contract, “because of Spanish LaLiga regulations on player registration.”
Barcelona’s Defensive Issues Continue
Barcelona did manage to strengthen the team’s defense this summer by bringing Eric Garcia back to the club from Manchester City. The 20-year-old began his career at the Camp Nou but has spent the last four years at Manchester City.
Garcia has started Barca’s first two games of the season but had a difficult night in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Athletic. The youngster learned shortly before kick-off that his grandfather had passed away, according to Diario Sport.
Despite the sad news, Garcia “wanted to play” and started alongside Gerard Pique at San Mames. However, Pique was forced off with an injury after 32 minutes, while Garcia was sent off in stoppage time.