Alvaro Arbeloa says he's counting down the days until Barcelona's Lionel Messi retires

Lionel Messi has given Real Madrid defenders nightmares down the years for Barcelona.

On two occasions the Argentine has scored a hat-trick against Los Blancos – one during a 3-3 draw in 2007, aged 19, and another during a 4-3 win at the Camp Nou.

He also holds the record for the most goals scored in El Clasico fixtures (26), so you can imagine Real players are sick of the sight of him after all these years.

But unfortunately for them, there’s a lot more to come from Messi.

Barcelona’s star man turns 32 in June but has shown no signs of slowing down this season – both literally and figuratively.

So far Messi has scored 21 goals in La Liga – six more than his closest challenger in the top goalscorer’s chart – and six goals in four games in the Champions League.

Real face Barcelona two more times this season in the Copa del Rey semi-finals second leg and La Liga and they’ll need to stop Messi to stand a chance.

But that’s easier said than done and one man who knows just how tough it is coming up against Messi is former right-back Alvaro Arbeloa.

The 36-year-old retired from professional football in 2017 and spent seven years playing for Real from 2009-2016.

He’s since become a pundit on Spanish TV and on this week’s episode on El Chiringuito he was asked about his relationship with Barcelona.

According to Arbeloa, he thinks Barca are a great team but is counting down the days until Messi retires, simply because he can’t enjoy watching him play.

“I’m not anti-Barcelona,” he said, per Marca. “Real Madrid fans aren’t anti-Barcelona. I always want them to lose because that’s good for Real Madrid.

“Would I want them to fail to go through in the Champions League? Yes, [because there would] be one less rival. Barcelona were always a challenging team, they’re a great team.

“I always went out to beat them. I’ve always seen tension in El Clasicos, even seeing Zinedine Zidane with his hands around Luis Enrique’s neck.

“I respect Barcelona a lot, as they’re a great team with a great player like Lionel Messi. He’s very good.

“[But] I’ve never been able to enjoy him and I don’t think I ever will. I hope he retires before long. I’m counting down the days.”

For seven years Messi tormented Arbeloa in El Clasicos and that seems to have affected the Spaniard’s enjoyment of watching him play – even after retirement.

Arbeloa should just be thankful that he no longer has to share a pitch with the 31-year-old.

News Now - Sport News