Kolkata, Sep 7 (PTI): La Liga may be shorn of its biggest name in Lionel Messi who left FC Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain but former Real Madrid player Fernando Morientes feels the Spanish league would not be “weakened” by the exit of the Argentine maestro.
Messi joining top French club PSG last month is not the only high-profile departure for La Liga. In the last five seasons, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Sergio Ramos have all left either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
“La Liga throughout its history has lost players, just like any other league… It is nothing new. Cristiano left, Neymar left, Messi and Ramos have also left,” Morientes, who is also the La Liga ambassador, said during a virtual media interaction.
“Footballers will eventually leave, but clubs will stay. La Liga doesn’t sell itself through one player. La Liga sells a competition. La Liga is never going to have a problem to sell itself as a competition.
“La Liga has done a spectacular job attempting to attract the best players to make it as competitive as always been.”
Morientes said it’s an opportunity for the Spanish clubs to prove themselves at the marquee Champions League.
“I would like to see a Spanish final in fact, because there are many people who believe that Messi’s exit has weakened the league. We have to demonstrate it is not the case.
“In the last 10-15 years, La Liga teams have always been very competitive in all European competitions. And I’m convinced this coming season the Spanish teams will demonstrate their true potential in this competition,” said the former Spanish centre-forward.
The 45-year-old said the onus would be on the clubs to change and adapt and sign great players.
“The La Liga will continue to be a really attractive league bringing in new players, and I’m sure that there’s great players that will want to come in to play here,” said Morientes who made 183 appearances for Real Madrid between 1997 and 2005.
“La Liga is sufficiently strong for it to be attractive to everyone. I’m convinced that in India you will continue to follow the league, and you will continue to follow our teams as fans and not just individual players.”
La Liga is telecast on MTV and Voot in India.
On the prospect of ‘El Clasico’ without Messi and Ronaldo, he said: “Real Madrid and Barcelona at the end of the day are much more than just two players. It’s true that both Cristiano and Messi have made history in Spanish football.
“It’s clear that we would love to have players of that calibre. But we have to remember that the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona dates back so many years, and Messi and Ronaldo are not always at the club.”