Barcelona's Lionel Messi: I want to play in Argentina before retiring

The former Newell's Old Boys trainee claims he is determined to appear in his homeland, while praising Ronaldo, who presented him with his third consecutive Ballon d'Or on Monday
Lionel Messi has affirmed that Barcelona are the only team he will ever play for on European soil, but has revealed his intention to play in his native Argentina before retiring.

The 24-year-old won his third straight Fifa Ballon d'Or accolade on Monday evening, after leading the Catalan club to five trophies during 2011. Having moved to Spain at the tender age of 13 after starring in the youth ranks at Newell's Old Boys, Leo is the only member of the current Albiceleste squad not to have started a single league game in Argentina.

Speaking on Tuesday to Ole, Messi was in no doubt that at some point in the future this would be remedied, and that he would appear in his home country.

"In Europe I want to play at Barcelona. I would stay here forever, the longer the better because I feel very comfortable and loved," the 24-year-old said.

"But before I retire I want to play in my country, I am absolutely certain that I want to play in Argentina. It is a dream and I am going to make it come true."

The player continued to state that he was delighted to have received the award from Brazilian legend Ronaldo, saying that it was another landmark in his career so far.

"I was overjoyed to meet him. I was transfixed watching his goals on the screen that was on the stage, amazing, he was an amazing forward and also a great guy, always with a smile on his face," he explained.

"It is an honour to receive the prize from him. Another dream come true, because as a kid I admired him, he was a brilliant goalscorer."

Messi and Barcelona are back in action on Thursday, when they meet Osasuna in their Copa del Rey last-16 second-leg match.

Starting in November and continuing through January, is publishing exclusive extracts from Graham Hunter's highly-anticipated new book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'. On Friday, the latest extract will take a closer look at the exciting emergence of Fifa Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi at Camp Nou: Don't miss it!