FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi said he was convinced the club's big offseason acquisition, Brazilian phenom Neymar, would fit in well amid a locker room of "good guys" and foresaw no problems playing with the fellow striker on the field.
"We hope it works on the pitch. He's a great player, disruptive in one-on-one situations and that makes all the difference. He's coming to a team full of stars, to a locker room filled with good guys, and I don't think he'll have any problem adapting," the 26-year-old four-time world player of the year said here at a press conference.
Speaking Wednesday to reporters after a practice session at the club's training grounds, Messi refused to talk about allegations he failed to report income from the sale of his image rights and thus defrauded Spain's tax authorities of more than 4 million euros ($5.3 million).
"I don't understand any of that. That's why I have my advisors, who manage these things and we trust them," he said.
He did comment, however, on the departures of two of his former Barça teammates, saying that Thiago Alcantara had left for Bayern Munich because he "wanted to play more" and that David Villa would be an excellent replacement for Colombia's Radamel Falcao at Atletico Madrid.
Referring to Villa, Messi said the forward was a player with many more goals in him and that Atletico would not lack scoring punch.
Messi said the hamstring strain that had hindered him at the very end of last season was no longer a cause for concern, adding that he was fully recovered and "very eager" to take on new challenges.
Barcelona's humiliating 7-0 defeat on aggregate by Bayern Munich in the semifinals of last season's UEFA Champions League left a bitter taste in the players' mouths, the Argentine striker, who missed the second leg of that tie, said.
"The way Bayern eliminated us hurt all of us. The goal differential was excessive and that's motivating us even more for this season," he said.
Barcelona is counting on a healthy Messi and the electrifying talent of the 21-year-old Neymar to help the team defend its Spanish-league title and recover its hegemony over global soccer by winning a fifth Champions League crown.
Messi said he believed his team's main rivals would be Champions League title holder Bayern - now led by new manager Pep Guardiola, who coached Messi at Camp Nou for four seasons - and perennial Spanish-league powerhouse Real Madrid.