Sergio Busquets revealed on Monday that he was still in a “state of shock” following Lionel Messi’s departure, as Barcelona prepares to begin their first Champions League game without the Argentine since 2003.
Barca faces Bayern Munich at Camp Nou in Group E on Tuesday and will begin the competition as outsiders following a traumatic summer transfer window.
Facing debts of more than a billion euros, the club let go 11 players, including Messi, who joined Paris Saint-Germain after being told his contract could not be renewed.
Messi scored 120 goals in 149 European games for Barcelona and won the tournament four times, in 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2015, the last three alongside Busquets.
“I felt like everyone else, I was in a state of shock, because of what Leo means for Barca and what he means personally to me and our families,”Busquets said in a press conference.
“I had emotions that were difficult to manage. But these are hard decisions that are not up to us and now we have to change the mindset.”
Busquets said Barcelona are beginning a “new era” without Messi and pointed to Chelsea’s surprise success last season as evidence of what is possible in the Champions League. “We are very ambitious,” Busquets said.