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INTERVIEW – Adepoju: Expect An Exciting Laliga 2020/21 – Messi Still ‘Hungry’; Chukwueze, Azeez Great

INTERVIEW – Adepoju: Expect An Exciting Laliga 2020/21 – Messi Still ‘Hungry’; Chukwueze, Azeez Great

Laliga Ambassador in Nigeria and former Super Eagles midfilder, Mutiu Adepoju, believes that the Spanish top flight has much that will excite the fans around the world in the new season. In this exclusive interview with Complete Sports’y SULAIMAN ALAO, the former Real Madrid B, Racing Santander and Real Sociedad player points out what to expect in the new campaign’ that kicks off on Friday, September 11, 2020.

Complete Sports: The 2020/2021 LaLiga season is set to commence this weekend. What are your expectations ahead of the new season?

Adepoju: Football last season in the Spanish LaLiga Santander and other leagues across the world suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is difficult to quantify the magnitude of setback Covid19 had on football business. After the initial total lockdown, things started picking up slowly and LaLiga were able to conclude the season.

This new season, LaLiga will hopefully pick up from where we left off and we can all look forward to an interesting season because everybody is raring to go. All the clubs have adapted quite well under the circumstance and I hope along the line, fans would be able to return to the stadia to support their teams and enjoy quality live football.

The business side is picking up gradually with clubs involved in the transfer window. I’m sure LaLiga fans all over the world can look forward to an exciting season.

The Messi failed exit saga and his eventual decision to stay back at Nou Camp have dominated LaLiga discussion for some time now. How will it impact on Barcelona and the LaLiga at large?

I think it is good that Messi has rescinded his decision to quit Barcelona because he is one of the club’s legendary players who brings a lot to the club and the LaLiga as a whole. Messi’s issue was widely followed all across the football world with different opinions on whether he should leave or not. Of course, Barca will not want to lose such a quality player regarded as arguably the best player in the world.

Also Read: Nwakali Eagerly Anticipates Laliga Santander Action With Newly Promoted Huesca

Personally too, I don’t want him to leave because he has given so much to the LaLiga and has won so many titles with Barcelona. Thankfully, the issue he had with the Barcelona board has been resolved at least to an extent and his decision to stay back will positively impact on Barcelona and LaLiga as a whole.

We have seen Messi at the start of his Barca career when he did so well with the likes of Xavi and Iniesta under Pep Guardiola. We have seen Messi mature to become Barca captain shouldering lots of responsibilities post-Iniesta, Xavi and Guardiola era.

Now, Messi is about entering into the twilight period of his career and he is still hungry and eager for success. Many fans will love to see him finish his career in the LaLiga with Barcelona.

Messi’s contract with Barcelona will run out at the end of the 2020/2021 season. Do you think he would be willing to renew his contract or do you see him leaving on a free transfer at the end of the coming season?

It is difficult to say what will happen at this point. Both parties have buried their hatches for now and time is a great healer. Whether or not Messi renew his contract depends on how the Barca board handle the issues during the coming season.

If things go right with the team and he is offered a very good contract, Messi can still be persuaded to renew his contract. For now, Barcelona should be content with having their talismanic captain for this season while we all wait to see how things pan out at the end of the season.

With Barcelona currently rebuilding their squad, will that give Real Madrid the opportunity to dominate the LaLiga in the new season?

Barcelona and Real Madrid are the two biggest clubsides in the LaLiga with a very deep rivalry between them and their respective fans. It is difficult to see Madrid totally dominating Barcelona because of the keen rivalry between the two teams.

With the ongoing rebuilding at the Nou Camp, Barcelona can only get stronger and will surely give Madrid a very good fight for the title in the coming season. But you can’t rule out the competition from other teams like Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal who are all coming up strongly.

LaLiga teams crashed out in the quarter-finals in last season’s Champions League won by Bayern Munich. Can we take that to mean that the LaLiga is on the decline?

The Spanish LaLiga remain one of the most competitive football leagues in Europe. Teams from the LaLiga have dominated European football in the last decade. Last season was just a blip, but still, Sevilla won the Europa League.

LaLiga still remains very attractive for top football stars many of whom still desire to play there. So, I see LaLiga teams coming back strongly in Europe in the new season with better performances to contest for top honours in the Champions League.

Lastly, what are the chances of Nigerian players in the LaLiga in the new season?

Nigerian players stand a good chance of doing well in the 2020/2021 LaLiga, but they will need to work harder because it is a very competitive league.

Samuel Chukwueze has started well with Villarreal in the past two seasons. He remains Nigeria’s biggest star in the LaLiga, but he needs to step up his game this season. He is still young and Villarreal is a very good platform for him to show his true worth, to stake a more solid claim to stardom.

The same thing goes for Ramon Azeez who has also been a regular feature at Granada. With hard work and luck, this could be Chukwueze and Azeez’s best season in the LaLiga.

It is good we are having a new player, Keigo Erimuya joining Chukwueze and Azeez in the LaLiga. It will be tough for his team – Cadiz, who won promotion to the LaLiga, but Erimuya must grab the opportunity to make name for himself.

It’s sad that Kenneth Omeruo got relegated with Leganes, but they can stage a quick return to the LaLiga if they do well in the Segunda Division this season.

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