Messi 2021: Barcelona hero set to emulate Maldini, Giggs and Totti as one-club man
Ryan Giggs, Francesco Totti and Paolo Maldini became heroes by representing one club and Lionel Messi is closing in on emulating them.
Lionel Messi ended lingering speculation over his Barcelona future on Saturday by finally penning a long-mooted contract extension running until 2021.
Messi will be 34 when his new deal at Camp Nou expires, increasing the likelihood that he could join a select band of adored stars who have represented a solitary club for the duration of their professional careers.
Here we look at five of football's most celebrated one-club men.
Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
Indisputably one of the greatest defenders of all-time, Maldini made his Milan debut as a 16-year-old in 1985 and spent the next quarter of a century at San Siro, winning seven Serie A titles and five Champions Leagues.
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
Like Maldini, Giggs progressed from prodigious young talent to distinguished elder statesman as he represented United from 1990 to 2014. Two Champions Leagues and 13 Premier League titles sit among an astonishing 34 honours amassed by Giggs across 963 senior United appearances.
Francesco Totti (Roma)
Totti bid an emotional farewell to Roma at the end of last season after 786 competitive appearances and 307 goals – matching Maldini's record of appearing in 25 Serie A seasons.
Carles Puyol (Barcelona)
A long-time team-mate of Messi's and the captain of Pep Guardiola's mesmeric treble winners of 2008-09, Puyol won six LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues. Messi has already surpassed his 593 appearances to sit third on Barcelona's all-time list behind Xavi and another man set for one-club status – Andres Iniesta.
Matthew Le Tissier (Southampton)
A mercurial forward with a knack for scoring improbably audacious goals, Le Tissier was regularly linked with the leading lights of English football during his 1990s heyday. He remained loyal to boyhood club Southampton to cement icon status on the south coast, although a mere eight appearances for England provides a talking point about what might have been possible had he not resisted offers from bigger clubs.