Lionel Messi, Barcelona, Champions League 2020-21Getty

‘Messi more of a leader after chaotic summer’ – Sorin hails Barcelona star’s response to exit talk

Lionel Messi has become more of a leader for club and country on the back of a “chaotic” summer for the Argentine superstar at Barcelona, says fellow countryman Juan Pablo Sorin.

The six-time Ballon d’Or was left mulling over his options at the end of a coronavirus-disrupted 2019-20 campaign.

With Barca stumbling over the line as they surrendered the Liga title to arch-rivals Real Madrid and suffered a crushing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, the decision was taken to make a change.

Messi informed the club of his desire to move on and saw the likes of Manchester City and Inter take an immediate interest in securing his signature.

The deadline was to pass, though, with no deal done. With Barca blocking his path, Messi revealed to Goal that he will be honouring the final year of his contract and sticking around until at least 2021.

He has not been at his free-flowing best domestically since making that decision, with many of his goals coming from the penalty spot, but he remains a talismanic presence for Barca and Argentina.

Ex-Blaugrana and Albiceleste star Sorin admits as much, telling TyC Sports of his iconic compatriot: “I see Messi more and more as a leader and more mature. In Barcelona he has had to experience a very chaotic moment, but he responded quickly on the pitch. He's also doing very well in the national team.”

Sorin added, with Messi having already helped Argentine to make a positive start in their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign: “Leo transferred his fight into good performances on the pitch and that is very good for the Argentines. He suffered defeats in Bolivia in the past and returned to play and win there, it is a strong demonstration of character.”

Sorin believes that Messi will continue to thrive in an Argentine camp that has not always seen the best of him, with head coach Lionel Scaloni working hard to try and take some of the burden of responsibility away from a talismanic captain.

“Leo is very well, I think he is very happy in the national team with all the people who know him around him,” added the former Argentina skipper. “I always say that you have to help him and surround him well, but not depend on him.”