Lionel Messi; arguably the best player in the world, though a certain Cristiano Ronaldo would have something to say about that.
The Argentine made his 500th appearance in all competitions for the F.C. Barcelona on 30th December, scoring his 425th goal in the 4-0 win over Real Betis.
Despite reports of numerous interested parties over the years, Messi has never shown the slightest inclination of wanting to leave the Catalan giants.
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However, the reports of his apparent unrest at Barcelona continue to make the sporting headlines, especially in the UK, with seemingly every big club having been linked to him in previous months.
So the truth to these reports is still uncertain, but should they be true, what should Messi do?
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The answer is, he should stay. For starters, despite all that he has given to the club, he owes the club his entire career. It has been well-documented that Barcelona agreed to pay for medical treatment for Messi when he was younger, in order to make him taller, and so that he could have a footballing career at all.
For F.C. Barcelona, the estimated €100,000 outlay represents arguably the best bargain of all time. For Messi, the club gave him a career, as his parents were unable to afford his treatment without the club's help.
This means that no matter what he has given the club through his outstanding footballing ability, and all that he will continue to give them, he will never have truly paid his debt to the club until he has seen out his career with them.
Furthermore, what would Messi actually gain from a move? He could never move to another club in Spain purely out of loyalty, and because he would need to play at a similar level of football, the only realistic option would be the Premier League.
This would represent a forced change in Messi's style of play. The footballing culture in England is very different to that of Spain, with the former being much more physical than what the 28-year-old would be used to. This, along with his smaller physique, would mean that Messi may struggle to have the same impact in the Premier League as he does currently in La Liga.
Other big-name players to have come from foreign leagues to the Premier League in recent years have suffered from the culture shock, most notably Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao and arguably Pedro this season. Messi would do well to avoid this risk, and potentially damage his reputation as the aforementioned players have.
All in all, despite the potential attraction of a move away from Camp Nou, Messi should see out his career with the Catalan club who gave him the opportunity to have one, for his own sake, but also for the sake of the club.
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