Dest: Barca feels ‘weird’ without Messi

Barcelona defender Sergino Dest has told ESPN that the club feels “weird” without Lionel Messi following his move to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

The United States international spent one season at Barca alongside Messi after joining from Ajax last season. Dest said he enjoyed his time with Barca legend, who is widely regarded as one of the best players in football history.

ESPN+ viewers’ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS and more
Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
– Marsden and Laurens: Inside Messi’s final days at Barca

“I was shocked a little bit because everyone wanted him to stay at the club,” Dest said on the eve of the new LaLiga season, which will be live on ESPN+.

“He’s the best player in the world. It was a shock for everyone — we wish he could have stayed. Unfortunately, he couldn’t.

“At the training ground and on the pitch, you see unbelievable things. You see how he scores those goals. What you see on the pitch is the same, even when you’re that close. It’s unbelievable to see him like that.

“We all have him in our hearts. It’s Messi. It just feels weird because he played for so long at this club, almost his whole life, and suddenly he had to leave. But we have to focus on the new season.

“We’ve got some work to do because with Messi it is easier, he’s the best player in the world. But I think if we play collectively and keep the chemistry high, we can achieve a lot.”

Barca will play their first competitive match since Messi’s departure when they kick off their 2021-22 LaLiga campaign against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

The Argentina international, 34, signed a two-year contract at PSG after he was told he could no longer stay at Barca due to the club’s inability to meet LaLiga’s wage restrictions.