VIDEO: Messi shows his worth, leads Barcelona to win over Bilbao - GulfToday

VIDEO: Messi shows his worth, leads Barcelona to win over Bilbao

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi scores against Athletic Bilbao during their Spanish League match at the Camp Nou Stadium. AFP

Lionel Messi underlined his worth to Barcelona by scoring a sensational free-kick on Sunday but Atletico Madrid are in charge of La Liga after beating Cadiz to stand 10 points clear at the top of the table.

Two of the candidates in Barcelona’s presidential election, Joan Laporta and Victor Font, insisted on Monday that Lionel Messi “generates more” than he earns, after his “colossal” club contract was published in a Spanish newspaper.

“Leo generates much more income than the money he costs,” Joan Laporta, who is seeking to regain the presidency, told Rac1 radio.

“We have done a study and he generates a third of Barca’s total income.”

“It’s not only the economic return,” Laporta said. “But also the emotional and sporting return, and the vivid moments he gives us.”

Messi’s stunning effort in a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao had been matched by the Argentinian’s friend and former team-mate Luis Suarez, who earlier curled in a superb free-kick of his own in Atletico’s 4-2 victory over Cadiz.

Atletico end the weekend even further ahead after Real Madrid’s defeat by Levante on Saturday, which means Zinedine Zidane’s side are now level with Barca on points, both of them struggling to keep pace in the title race.

“Every game is an important step towards reaching the goal we set ourselves at the start of the season,” said Diego Simeone. “We have to keep pushing each other.”

Barca’s win at least maintains their momentum while Messi’s 650th club goal may have carried extra satisfaction for the Argentinian, who had the details of his contract published in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Saturday night.

El Mundo claimed the deal signed by Messi in 2017 shows he could earn up to 555 million euros over its four years, describing it as “the colossal contract that ruined Barcelona”.

“Someone has done it with bad intentions to cause problems,” said Ronald Koeman. “You have to respect a player who has given so much to Spanish football and to this club. I didn’t have any doubts that it wouldn’t affect him on the pitch.”

Few can argue with Messi’s contribution in that regard, with the 33-year-old showing against Bilbao why the club have gone to such lengths to keep him.

Bilbao briefly drew level through a Jordi Alba own-goal early in the second half but Antoine Griezmann’s strike secured Barca their third consecutive victory, with Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong both impressive again.

Asked what Messi worth is to the team, Griezmann said: “What a question, we are enjoying him, he is a legend. I hope we can keep enjoying him for many more years.”

But Barcelona continue to be haunted by the spectre of Suarez, whose tremendous free-kick and then a penalty helped Atletico push their advantage into double figures.

Agence France-Presse

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