BLACKPOOL new boy Gerardo Bruna is hoping to step out of Lionel Messi’s shadow and make his own name at Bloomfield Road.
The 19-year-old from Liverpool FC has put pen to paper on a two-year Seasiders deal, with the option of a further year, ahead of tonight’s opening pre-season friendly at home to Scottish champions Rangers.
The attacking midfielder has had to live with the ‘New Messi’ nickname since leaving his native Argentina to join Spanish giants Real Madrid.
And Bruna told The Gazette he hopes to finally shake-off the tag. He said: “I think the Messi thing started in a Spanish newspaper but I don’t play like him at all.
“I’m more of a midfielder. I like to play attacking midfield and he’s more of a striker or winger.
“It came because we had a similar situation. He moved from Argentina to Barcelona and I moved from there to Real Madrid.
“It has probably added pressure on me but I want to be known as Gerardo Bruna and not the next Lionel Messi. I want to make my own name.”
Liverpool signed Bruna in 2007 before Real could tie him to a professional contract on his 18th birthday.
He had been at the Bernabeu for five years and Madrid were fuming at the loss of a potential star.
But despite impressing in the Anfield reserves – he scored against the Seasiders’ second string at Bloomfield Road last season – he failed to make a single appearance in Liverpool’s first team.
Bruna said: “I think it’s a good move for me, I didn’t have the chance to play in the first team at Liverpool and Ian Holloway told my agent that Blackpool wanted me.
“It’s a chance to come and play football, so I said yes straight away.
“I didn’t see much of Blackpool last season, but I’ve heard about their style of football and about their hope to get back into the Premier League.
“It’s a big move for me. I want to play a lot of games.”
Bruna met his new team-mates at last week’s training camp in Portugal and he believes that experience will prove a big help in the long term.
“We have a really good squad here and they’ve made it very easy for me since I arrived,” he said.
“I didn’t expect such good team spirit though I’ve heard all about Ian Holloway and his reputation.
“I met the manager and had a good half-hour conversation with him about the future. I liked what he said and I’m happy to be here.
“I like to play just behind the striker or in midfield. I like to get on the ball and create for the strikers.”
Bruna wants to show the Seasiders supporters what he can do against Ally McCoist’s Glasgow giants tonight. He added: “Hopefully I can play against Rangers and make an impression, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, Blackpool are believed to be close to a deal with Birmingham’s
ex-Rangers midfielder Barry Ferguson.
The former Scotland captain held talks with the Seasiders yesterday after a fee of around £750,000 was agreed with Pool’s Championship rivals.