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"I tried to sign Messi on loan for Juventus"

Russia manager says Real are favourites for the Champions League and that Messi has more "pure technique" than Ronaldo.

Russia manager Fabio Capello spoke on Spanish radio on Wednesday night, where he revealed that he once asked Frank Rijkaard, during a match, if he could take Leo Messi on loan when in charge at Juventus.

Messi: "It's completely true that I asked Rijkaard if he would loan me Messi for Juventus. When the play had stopped for a minute (during the Gamper Trophy in 2005) I went over to Rijkaard and said: 'You can't play him because you've got three foreigners already. Why don't you let me have him for a year?' Rijkaard replied: 'We're going to clear up the situation in three or four months and for that reason I can't do it.' That's why Messi's debut was last in coming. I knew the value of my full backs and when I saw Messi pay I knew he was special. I could see that he could do things that didn't occur to other players."

Neymar: "Neymar is a great player but I can't stand players who throw themselves to the floor every time they are touched. Pepe does the same thing. When they are winning and they get touched they go down. I don't like that. I like the spirit of games in England: running, fighting and not going down on the floor. As the English say: "No diving." Messi, on the other hand, despite all the kicks he gets, never dives. He is a player that I adore."

Champions League favourites: "For me the best team in Europe is Real Madrid. Their forwards have a lot of pace and skill, and this year the defence is much better. Bayern Munich are also a good side but Madrid are better. Chelsea are dangerous because they are hungry: they fight, they run and they have a lot of quality. Diego Costa is the man they lacked in attack and they also have a great goalkeeper. I see Barça maybe among the four semi-finalists but their performance will rely on how Luis Enrique manages the three forwards."

Messi and Ronaldo: Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi are two extraordinary players but they are different. Cristiano is a powerful player, with very good technique, but he does not possess the pure technical skill of Messi. Leo Messi is a very difficult player to play against."

The Clasico: "In the Clasico, Mascherano prevented Madrid from scoring five; he prevented two or three goals. In the first half Barça played well, but in the second Madrid was the better side. At this moment there is a difference between the teams because Madrid has more balance on the pitch. Barcelona lacks that."

Messi-Neymar-Suárez: "The three could be compatible, but it depends on where you play Messi. He needs to play closer to the goal to stay fresh. Luis Suárez is a player who is worth only 60 percent of his capability if he's on the wing. Suárez requires time because he's been out for four months and because he's a player who scores goals and can make the difference. If Luis Enrique finds the right formula, it's a front line that can score a lot of goals."

Iker Casillas: "I don't understand the debate about the goalkeeper's position at Real Madrid. He is an extraordinary goalkeeper and he has been through a tricky patch as all players do. Messi also went through a time when he wasn't Messi. You have to recognize the value of a player and help him through the hard times."

Estadísticas AS.com