Vilanova's absence hit us hard, claims Messi

The Barcelona star was ecstatic to have claimed the Liga title given the upheaval of Pep Guardiola's departure and the present coach's battle with ill health this season
Lionel Messi admits that it was hard for Barcelona to cope during Tito Vilanova's enforced absence this season.

The coach was away from the Blaugrana bench for over three months after suffering a cancer relapse at the end of 2012 and the Argentine was thrilled that his side were able to clinch the Liga title despite the absence of their boss.

"I was very happy. It is a very important title for what the Liga means, for the rivals we have, like Real Madrid, one of the best in the world," he said in an interview with Argentine journalists after his side's title triumph.

"The truth is it has not been easy because we came from a big change, from the farewell to [Pep] Guardiola. When Tito took over it was great because he practically changed nothing.

"But when he left himself, we noticed the change, not because [assistant coach Jordi] Roura and the others couldn't do it but because we lacked our first-team coach, he who had led us from day one. It was not the same.

"A year is a long time and to finish celebrating is very nice."

Messi went on to stress there is no need for panic at Camp Nou following their Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich and insisted he has no plans to move elsewhere in Europe in his career.

"You cannot always win," he said of the defeat to the German champions. "For years we have been playing in the same way and coaches and rivals have studied us. But we cannot go crazy because of what happened this year. We cannot change Barcelona's style because this has always characterised us. We have to be calm and think about next year.

"All I think about is staying at Barcelona until the end. I would like to play in Argentina as I have said before but I will not play for another team in Europe."