Messi ready for El Classico

Madrid, March 17: When Leo Messi travels to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium with the rest of his Barcelona team-mates for ‘El Classico’ against Real Madird next Sunday, he will do so knowing the destiny of the Primera Liga title is at stake, but also as a record holder.

Messi’ s hat-trick against Osasuna in Barca’ s 7-0 thrashing of the Navarran side Sunday saw him, overtake Paulinho Alcantara to become the highest goalscorer in Barca’s history.

The Argentinean now has 371 goals in a Barca shirt, and intends to score a lot more.

“I’ll stay at the club for as long as I am wanted. My intention is to retire at Barca, I’m happy here,” said Messi, when asked about rumours that he may leave Barca as a result of the off-field turmoil at the club.

He was also happy about setting a new scoring record for Barca, at the age of just 26.

“Once you get close to a record, you just want to beat it for everything making history at a great club like Barca represents. It took many years for it to be broken and it will be many years before someone breaks it again,” he said.

Messi’ s last two performances, against Manchester City and Osasuna have seen him back to his best after doubts he had not shaken off the effects of the muscle injuries which troubled him at the end of last year.

“I feel fine in myself and I have felt good for the past two weeks,” he confirmed, adding, “I feel as though I am improving. My injury is now in the past and forgotten about, I’ m recovering my rhythm and self-confidence.”

Real Madrid currently lead Barca by four points in the table and know that a win would put them out of sight of the Catalans.

“We hope that we can get a good result which will keep us in the title race. We’ re in good form and it’ s a good opportunity for us,” said Messi, who nevertheless is aware of the problems in visiting the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where Madrid have lost just once this season.

“We’ ll be the visiting team against a great side like Madrid who are full of confidence and winning their games easily. It’ s going to be difficult but we know what we can do and we can beat them. We’ ll do what we can to keep in touch with the leaders so that we will still have chances to win the league,” concluded Messi.

IANS