Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has vowed to stay at the club and play through the disappointment of his side’s second-straight dramatic Champions League exit ahead of this weekend’s Copa del Rey final.
Leading the semi-final tie 3-0 from the first leg in the Camp Nou, the La Liga champions were odds-on favourites to progress to next month’s final in Madrid – only for Liverpool to complete a remarkable comeback and win the game 4-0.
It was the second straight season Barca crumbled from a three-goal advantage in the Champions League, having stumbled to Roma last term in the quarter-final stage.
The painful aggregate defeat meant Ernesto Valverde’s men have had to settle for domestic success this season, which they’ll hope to add to in Seville when they face Valencia on Saturday night.
Seeking a second straight domestic double, Messi insisted that his appetite for success has not altered despite Barca’s spectacular semi-final collapse against Liverpool earlier this month.
“I still want to be here, beyond the disappointment," Messi said ahead of the Estadio Benito Villamarin clash.
“I also had them (disappointments) with the Argentine national team and I keep trying. The fact that we have had disappointments does not change anything.”
“They are two different things. Losing a World Cup final (against Germany in 2014) is the most important of all, and is a big disappointment.
“But going 3-0 up and it turning around are two totally different things. It's a very great disappointment in both - both in the World Cup and now.”
One element of the season that has lifted the 31-year-old’s spirits has been wearing the captain’s armband for Barcelona.
And the club’s all-time leading goalscorer claimed that if the Liverpool debacle is removed from the equation, the Spanish champions have enjoyed another successful campaign.
Messi added: “Wearing the armband? It was a spectacular year for me where we won La Liga, we’re in the cup final, and we could lift three titles.
“Taking away the game that spoiled it all, I think we had a great year.”