The question over whether Lionel Messi will spend his entire professional career at Barcelona has been one that fans and pundits have asked many times.
With the money on offer in the Premier League, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has always been linked with a move to British shores. However, the guaranteed success that comes with playing at Camp Nou, coupled with the warm weather and a feeling of familiarity, has seen Messi hang around for much of his incredible vocation.
But turning 29 later this year, the Argentine will start to face up to the twilight of his career. While he will certainly have plenty to offer Barcelona for many years to come, he will have his own ambitions in mind.
Indeed, Messi has spoken in the past of his intention to return to his homeland at some point to play for Newell's Old Boys – the club he left for Barcelona – in the Argentine Primera Division. That, of course, would mean saying goodbye to the city of Barcelona, where he has been a resident for his entire adult life.
Speaking to the popular Argentine magazine El Grafico, the subject of his long-awaited return was a topic of conversation. Again, Messi confirmed that he still retains a wish to play professional football in the South American country, but left no inclination as to when he will depart Catalunya.
“It’s something that I would still like to do. I don’t know when, but it’s a possibility,” he told El Grafico, as per the Guardian.
“I haven’t set myself any goals, short or long term, but I’d like to keep playing whilst my body allows it and I have something to offer the team. When I know that it’s time, I’ll make a decision.”
Trophies over records
Messi has played in Argentina plenty of times in the past, albeit for the national side. With 49 goals, the diminutive attacker is closing in on Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time record of 57. While the record will be a welcome addition to his vast collection, Messi admitted he would rather retire with a World Cup of Copa America winner's medal than another individual record.
“I prefer to win something with the national team,” he said. “I am not interested in records. They are there, but that does not make you win titles.
“I get upset whenever we lose with Argentina because I know that we should have won. We did enough to win the World Cup and the Copa America.”
Messi will have the chance to win a Copa America this summer as the second tournament in successive years is held in the USA this summer. Argentina are amongst the favourites to win, but must first overcome a group containing current holders Chile.