Barcelona's Lionel Messi open to Argentina return before retirement
Lionel Messi has again outlined his desire to play in his native Argentina before his career ends but the Barcelona forward insists he has put no timeframe on a return.
Messi, 28, began his career with Argentine side Newell's Old Boys before being snapped up by Barca's academy in 2001 at the age of 13.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has since gone on to win seven Primera Division titles, three Copa del Reys and four Champions League winners' medals and could add to that tally this season.
La Liga leaders Barcelona are currently on a 34-match unbeaten run in all competitions and hold a 2-0 lead over Arsenal after the first leg of their round-of-16 tie in the Champions League.
And while Messi has no immediate intention of leaving Spain, he does concede a move back home appeals at some stage.
"It's something that I would still like to do. I don't know when, but it's a possibility," he told Argentinian magazine El Grafico.
"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."
The Argentina captain has scored 49 international goals and is closing in on Gabriel Batistuta's record of 57.
Yet Messi, who guided his country to the World Cup final in 2014 before being beaten in extra time by Germany, admits he would rather win team accolades.
"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."
Meanwhile, Messi says his understanding with Neymar and Luis Suarez has helped to build confidence in the Blaugrana team.
The clear friendship on and off the pitch between the Argentina captain and his Brazilian and Uruguayan clubmates has been widely seen as a key factor in their outstanding performances as Barca won the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey treble last year and now remain on course to repeat that feat this season.
Not everyone believes that such fellow-feeling is so important -- with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo arguing last month that "little kisses or little hugs off the field are worthless" as long as your team is winning games.
However, Messi has said that being surrounded by fellow South Americans is a factor in Barca's success -- although when the situation is different when they represent their respective national teams.
"The truth is we have a very good relationship on and off the pitch," Messi said. "We get on very well together. We aim to work as a team and that is good for us all to feel important. That is why confidence is so high. Being 'latinos' maybe brings you closer, although we are professionals, when we represent our national teams we change roles, but there is no rivalry or confrontation."
At international level Messi has now moved to 49 goals for his country in 105 caps, putting him just five behind Argentina's record goalscorer Gabriel Batistuta, who scored 54 in his 77 appearances between 1991 and 2002.
With the Albiceleste having in recent years suffered painful defeats in the World Cup 2014 and Copa America 2015 finals, Messi said he would much prefer the team to win an international trophy to any individual mark he might pass.
"I would prefer to win something important with Argentina, even if it came with an own-goal," he said. "I am not interested in records, although they are there, but they do not win you trophies."
ESPN FC's Spain correspondent Dermot Corrigan contributed to this report