MADRID: Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi says he has not given any thought about retiring after next year’s World Cup adding he would love to be Barcelona sporting director when he does finally hang up his boots. The six-time Ballon D’Or winner will be 35 by the time the World Cup — a trophy that has eluded him through his stellar career — comes round in Qatar next year.
Messi is tied to French Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint Germain till June 2023 — with the option of an extra year — after leaving his beloved Barcelona in August. He told yesterday’s edition of Catalan newspaper Sport retirement was not on his agenda. “No, truthfully no,” he said regarding hanging up his boots. “After all that has happened to me, I just live day to day, year after year. I do not know what is going to happen at the World Cup or after it. I am not thinking about it. What will be will be at that moment.”
Messi added that leaving Barcelona after almost two decades had been a huge wrench but he will return one day to live there and even perhaps be the sporting director of the club. Xavi, his long-time team-mate during the glory years at Barca — winning amongst other silverware four Champions League trophies — is the favorite to return to the club as head coach following the sacking of Ronald Koeman last week.
“We will return to live in Barcelona, our life will be there, that is for sure,” he said. “It is what both my wife and I want. I do not know if it will be straight after the end of my contract with Paris, but we will return to live in Barcelona. I would love to be sporting director at some point. I do not know if it will be at Barcelona or not, or I will fill another role. But if there is a possibility, I would love to help the club.”
Messi has as of yet failed to sparkle at PSG and he told Sport his and his family’s greatest desire was to stay at Barca. Messi joined PSG after Barca decided not to renew the Argentinian’s contract due to La Liga’s strict salary limits. Barcelona president Joan Laporta said in October he hoped Messi would change his mind and play for free.
Messi, though, said that had never been tabled as an option. “I did everything I could to stay there,” he said. “Never at any point did they ask me to play for free. They asked me to reduce my salary by 50 percent and I did that no problem. We were willing to help the club. My desire and that of my family was to stay in Barcelona.” – AFP