Belfast Telegraph

Messi: I wouldn't trade club success for World Cup glory


No complaints: Lionel Messi is happy with his football career
No complaints: Lionel Messi is happy with his football career

By Harry Latham-Coyle

Lionel Messi has claimed he would not "change anything" about his career.

The Barcelona forward suggested that, while he would have loved to have won the World Cup, he would not trade his success to be world champion.

Messi missed out in 2014 as he helped Argentina to the World Cup final, with Germany narrow 1-0 victors in Brazil.

"I would have loved to have been world champion, and it was one of my biggest dreams, but I would not change anything," explained Messi.

"It's what God gave me and it was for a reason. I cannot complain about what I have from a football and personal standpoint."

Messi will be 35 by the time the Qatar World Cup begins in 2022. Argentina were knocked out in the Round of 16 by eventual champions France in Russia last year.

Messi has 68 goals for his country in 135 appearances.

He retired from international duty after a third consecutive final defeat at a major tournament at the Copa America Centenario in 2016, but later reversed that decision.

He has won ten La Liga titles at Barcelona, as well as helping the Catalan club to four Champions League victories.

Messi is among the favourites to win this year's Ballon d'Or, a prize he has previously won five times, but not since 2015.

The 32-year-old also explained that he would rather start on the bench than be substituted, the Barcelona captain revealing that he likes being on the field when games are resolved.

As such, he would rather come on than be taken off, even if it means he plays fewer minutes.

"I don't like to be replaced," he added. "I prefer to come from the bench and play less than to be taken out.

"I say that because a lot of games are resolved near the end of the game, or you find more spaces then because you have rivals that are tired. I prefer to come in and enjoy it than to leave and miss out on the best."

Messi provoked debate in 2014 by appearing to refuse to be substituted during a comfortable Barcelona win over Eibar.

Luis Enrique, then manager at the Catalan club, appeared to shout at Messi and gesture to the bench indicating he wanted to come off, but Messi refused, with Neymar eventually withdrawn instead.

The Argentine forward endured a frustrating start to the season as he battled injury, but has scored in each of Barcelona's last two games, before the rearranging of El Clasico gave him a rare weekend off.

Those goals took his career tally to 674 goals in just 829 games for both club Barcelona and country Argentina.

Belfast Telegraph


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