Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 September 2020

'I could never see Messi in another shirt' - new Barcelona signing Miralem Pjanic

Bosnian says he always wanted to play with Barca great

New Barcelona signing Miralem Pjanic said he could never imagine Lionel Messi playing for another club.

Pjanic, whose move from Juventus was confirmed in June, was officially unveiled on Tuesday and said he always wanted to play with the Argentine.

Messi claimed earlier this month he had been forced to stay at Barca after he and the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu disagreed over his contract.

Manchester City were favourites to capitalise and it's still possible Messi will leave next summer, when his contract expires and he can go for free.

"I could never see Messi playing in another shirt," said Pjanic. "For me it was impossible and I always thought everything would eventually work out.

"My hope was to play with him. I met Messi two or three days ago but I haven't yet been able to train or play with him. I have been lucky enough to play with players like Cristiano Ronaldo and [Francesco] Totti but I want to enjoy playing with this whole team.

"All 25 of us will be important and I believe in the spirit of the group."

Pjanic's transfer from Juve to Barcelona was part of a financial operation involving Arthur Melo going the other way, allowing both clubs to boost their profit figures for the year.

Barca said they paid €60 million (Dh261m) plus a potential €5m in bonuses for the Bosnian playmaker while Juventus would pay €72m plus €10m in variables for Arthur.

"Leaving Juve was difficult," said Pjanic. "I have left an incredible club but a footballer always wants to grow and have new challenges. After nine years in Italy I needed new goals and Barca was my dream."

Sitting alongside Pjanic was Barcelona's new sporting director Ramon Planes, who was asked about the future of Luis Suarez.

Suarez was not included in Ronald Koeman's squad on Saturday for a friendly against Gimnastic Tarragona, with the club keen for the Uruguayan to leave.

"Luis has been an important player for Barca in recent years and for this he deserves the utmost respect," said Planes.

"Since the end of the season we have been fully involved in a process of change, with the coach and our ideas.

"But we must respect, above all, the players and their contracts. Until October 5, when the market is closed, everything can happen."

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Messi's first game since transfer u-turn

Updated: September 16, 2020 07:32 AM

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