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Messi: I’d rather be a Barcelona substitute than be replaced

4:25 PM GMT+4 29/10/2019
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2019-20
For the Argentina international star, the quality of the playing time is more important than the quantity

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has admitted that he would prefer to come off the bench as a substitute rather than start and be replaced.

The logic of the 32-year-old, who counts five Ballons d’Or among his string of personal awards, is that by playing the closing stages of fixtures, he is able to better exploit spaces caused by tired opponents.

The forward has been one of the game’s master offensive craftsmen for years and posts a remarkable string of records to his name, with a club-record 606 goals scored for Barca in only 694 appearances.

Although the Argentina international has previously expressed a desire to one day return to his homeland and play for Newell's Old Boys, he has sent a potential message to future Barca coaches in how to manage his game time when he is unable to play the full duration of fixtures.

“I do not like to be replaced,” he told TyC Sports. “I prefer to come off the bench and play less time than to be substituted.

“I think that because a lot of games are unlocked towards the end, or you find more space because your opponents are tired, I prefer to go into the play and enjoy the game, rather than be replaced and miss out on the best time.”

This may have to be an increased consideration for the attacker given that he has suffered significantly through injuries at the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign.

He has missed five of Barca's La Liga matches already this season due to physical problems, with a foot injury keeping him out of the first four games before an adductor issue saw him miss the 2-0 win in Getafe in September.

As a consequence of these worries, Messi’s statistics this season are below their usual stellar standard, though he can still boast three goals and three assists from the seven matches he has played.

Nevertheless, he faces a major challenge to defend the European Golden Shoe, which he was awarded with earlier this month.

Of the chief contenders to win the prize this term, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski leads the way, having netted 13 times for Bayern Munich, while Ciro Immobile is next, with the Italy striker having scored 10 times for Lazio