Lionel Messi has rejected claims his extraordinary talent is turning him into an overbearing presence at Barcelona.
Messi has been in outstanding form in the Champions League and La Liga since the beginning of the 2012/13 campaign, guiding Barca to the top of the Spanish championship and into the last 16 of the European Cup.
The 25-year-old has been accused of dictating terms at Barca following some on-field disputes with team-mates this season, a concept the Argentina international strongly rejected.
“Here at Barcelona, I have really learned to play in a team,” he told ELF Voetball.
“In the Barcelona second team I learned a lot. At Barcelona they work quite differently to the rest of the world. I came from Argentina, where I did whatever I liked. Mostly it was running and little more. Here I really learned to play in a team.
“I am not a tin-pot dictator. I don’t care what people say. My team-mates know that I am not like that, they know well what I am really like.”
After finding the net twice during Barca’s 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, Messi is now only one goal short of matching Germany legend Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in one calendar year.
“I am grateful for these things, and I appreciate them, but I am my own hardest critic,” he said.
“I know when I haven’t performed well or when I’ve made a mistake. Deep down I don’t need anybody to tell me anything, but I learn from everything that is said, and it all goes to help me try to improve.”
Last season, rivals Real Madrid came out as champions in La Liga, but Messi is confident his side will regain top spot this term.
“I don’t know what went wrong last season, but it will serve to make certain it doesn’t happen again, and that we will always be hungry for more,” he said.
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