Lionel Messi: I wouldn’t swap Barcelona for Premier League
Lionel Messi has ended any hopes the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City or Inter Milan may have had of one day signing the Argentine by insisting he wants to stay at Barcelona “for life”.
By Giles Mole
Messi, now 22, has spent the last 10 years of his fledgling career at Barca, having arrived as a 12-year-old from Newell’s Old Boy’s youth team back in 2000.
He was so small, Barcelona paid for growth hormone replacement treatment to ensure the prodigiously talented forward would be able to make it as a professional player.
The next five years were spent nurturing the player until, aged 17, he was given his first team chance by Frank Rijkaard.
The rest, as they say, is history. Under current Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, Messi has won almost every club honour in the game and is favourite to be crowned World Player of the Year.
However, without the support shown by Barca for Messi in his early teens, the player himself acknowledges he would not be the talent he is today.
He told the Express: “Will I play in the Premier League one day? I have said that I want to be at Barcelona for life. I will be here for as long as they want me. I owe Barcelona more than for giving me a chance – I owe them for changing my life.
“When I was at Newell’s Old Boys my hormone condition meant I was never going to make it as a professional.
“My father had to take three jobs, but the medical bills in Argentina are very expensive and we still couldn’t afford them, and no team at home was prepared to take a chance and pay them.
“Barcelona offered to pay them and moved me and my family to Spain. How could I ever leave a club who did that for me, and why would I ever want to leave a club who play football like this?”
Messi also believes it is only a matter of time before Cesc Fabregas joins him at the Nou Camp.
Fabregas started off at Barca, before moving to Arsenal as a 15 year-old, and the Spaniard has been constantly linked with a £30 million return.
Messi said: “Cesc has a place for Arsenal in his heart, but he has Barcelona in his blood. He will want to win the biggest prizes in football, and I expect him to do that at Barcelona.
“I don’t exactly know when that will be, but I expect him to be my Barcelona team-mate again at some point.”