Lionel Messi has admitted that the coronavirus lockdown was difficult, but believes the stoppage of football may end up acting as a positive.
The Argentine and his Barcelona team-mates have been forced to self-isolate after all La Liga games and Spanish second division matches were postponed in a desperate bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
And with the Catalan club just two points clear of Real Madrid, Messi knows he will have to keep training if he wants to be in tip-top shape should the season resume.
The 32-year-old is one footballer who has been lucky enough to train in a large garden during this period — something he believes will stand him in good stead.
“Maybe this break will benefit us, but let’s see if they can start the competitions and then we’ll leave the doubts, because we’ll check the level we have or can have when we start,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo.
“Training again is a first step, but we must not get too confident and we must continue to take all the necessary precautions and assume that we have to start playing matches when they arrive but behind closed doors.
“Personally, I can’t wait for the competitions to come back.
“We know it’s going to be weird without fans in the stadium and with the issue of training camps — we really don’t want to be separated from our families.
“We’ll have to see how it looks in the end.”
Messi has also used the quarantine as the perfect opportunity to hone his skills.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has the ideal home to craft his talents, with his isolated luxury mansion boasting an outdoor football pitch, swimming pool and an indoor gym.
“Physically I’m very well,” Messi continued.
“I’ve been training at home these days and I think it’s helped me stay in shape.
“The confinement was very tough, but with the kids and Antonela, everything ends up becoming moments that I try to enjoy together [with my family].”
Barcelona continue to work towards the proposed restart date of La Liga next month.
First-team players returned to the club’s Sant Joan Despi base for coronavirus testing last week, ending a 53-day absence due to the pandemic.
Players will start to train in small groups and progress to full sessions before resuming games.
La Liga remains on track to return in June, though the league have not confirmed an exact timeline.
Barcelona were back on the training pitch last Friday, with Real Madrid following suit on Monday.