Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) forward and Argentina captain Lionel Messi has claimed that he doesn't believe he will play for much longer.
The former Barcelona attacker is now 35, creeping into the latter stages of his astonishing career. But Messi has been in red-hot form this season, scoring 12 goals and providing 14 assists in 19 appearances across competitions.
Speculation has been growing over what the future holds for the Argentine, whose contract with PSG expires next summer (although there is the option of a one-year extension). Staying at the Parc des Princes, returning to Barca, or heading to MLS side Inter Miami have all been touted as possibilities, per Julien Laurens.
However, Messi has now claimed that it may not be too long until calls it a day on his playing career. Speaking to CONMEBOL, he said:
"I love football. Surely, I will work on something related to it. I have done it all my life. However, I don't think I will play for much longer."
Lionel Messi is, for many, the greatest player of all time, having accomplished pretty much everything there is to achieve in the sport.
The Argentine joined Barca's youth system at 13 and made his senior team debut at 17. Messi made 778 appearances for the Blaugrana, scoring 672 goals and providing 303 assists.
The veteran attacker won the Champions League four times, the La Liga title ten times, and the Copa del Rey seven times during his time at the Nou Camp. He then headed to PSG in 2021 due to Barca's inability to afford a new contract for their ex-captain.
The Argentine has bagged 23 goals and 29 assists in 53 appearances during his time at the Parc des Princes, lifting the Ligue 1 title last season.
Messi has also shone on the international stage, scoring 90 goals in 164 games for Argentina and winning the Copa America in early 2021.
Lionel Messi believes Brazil, France and England will be Argentina's main rivals at the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Lionel Messi now heads into what is expected to be his final FIFA World Cup tournament with Argentina in Qatar. The PSG forward is part of a La Albiceleste side that are unbeaten in 35 games in all competitions.
They are in Group C and face Saudi Arabia on 22 November, before clashes with Mexico and Poland. However, Messi expects their main challenge at the tournament to come from Brazil, France, and England.
He said (via Eurosport):
"If I have to put some above others I think Brazil, France and England are a little bit above the rest. But the World Cup is so difficult and so complicated that anything can happen."
The closest Lionel Messi has come to winning the tournament was in 2014, when Argentina suffered a dramatic 1-0 extra-time defeat to Germany in the final. Many hope he goes one step further this time and gets his hand on the illustrious trophy in Qatar.