Lionel Messi has opened up on his struggles with the lasting effects of Covid-19, revealing he had respiratory problems that meant he was 'unable to run' for more than a month.
The Paris Saint-Germain star contracted the virus early this year amid a mini breakout in the squad. It was far from Messi's best season, although he still contributed 11 goals and 14 assists.
Speaking to TYC Sports about his experience of the illness, Messi revealed that even when the initial symptoms cleared up he was left with lasting effects that seriously impacted his performance.
“It left me with after effects. It left me with after effects in my lungs. I came back and it was like a month and a half without even being able to run because my lungs were affected," the veteran forward said.
Despite obviously suffering with the consequences of the virus, Messi only missed three games before making his return. He now accepts that came too soon.
He continued: “I came back before I should have, and it got worse because I went too fast and it ended up setting me back. But I couldn’t take it anymore, I wanted to run, to train - I wanted to get going. And in the end, it got worse."
Messi also admitted that while he had been on the road to recovery, the agonising Champions League exit to eventual champions Real Madrid at the last 16 stage proved to be a sucker punch for him and PSG's season as a whole.
Les Parisiens had won the first leg 1-0 and were one up in the second leg before succumbing to a stunning second-half hat-trick from Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu.
“When I was halfway there [towards being at my peak], the Real Madrid thing happened and that killed us,” Messi added. “It killed me and the whole locker room in general and all of Paris because we had this big dream in that competition.
“And the way it happened, the game, the result … it was a gut punch.”