Lionel Messi thinks football “like life, will never be the same again” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as the Barcelona superstar prepares to return to the field with La Liga poised to restart.
Covid-19 has killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world and caused the banning of mass gatherings in most countries, meaning football has had to take a back seat for several weeks amid the battle against the virus.
There are plans for a return to a certain normality in the coming weeks, however, with several major football leagues in Europe having either restarted or are planning to resume their 2019-20 seasons.
La Liga is scheduled to start again on June 11, with Messi’s Barcelona aiming to maintain their two-point advantage over Real Madrid at the top of the table.
However, Messi has admitted it is tricky to focus on football given the immense impact of coronavirus, speaking out about the “frustration” of being unable to save or protect loved ones, and his belief that football – as with the rest of life – will have to face up to enormous changes because of the pandemic.
Messi told El Pais: “Most of us are left with doubts about what the world is going to be like after everything that has happened. Beyond the confinement and the situation that took us by surprise, many people had a really hard time because this situation affected them in some way, as it happened with all those who lost their family and friends and could not even see them.
“I think there were a lot of negative things in this crisis, but there can be nothing worse than losing the people you love the most, that creates enormous frustration for me and seems to me the most unfair thing of all.
“Soccer, like life in general, I think will never be the same.”
Despite the immense toll the lockdown has taken mentally and physically on players, they will return to action in Spain in a couple of weeks, as Messi’s team-mate Luis Suarez says Barcelona remain as determined as ever to “win all we can”.
He told Sport: “The ambitions are the same, win all we can and I think that we’re in good shape to do that, I see the team doing well and it’s hopeful.”
There are 11 games left in the Liga season, while Barcelona are also in the last 16 of the Champions League, although it is unclear when or if that competition can be finished.