Barcelona star Lionel Messi claims that he thinks “less and less” about scoring goals as he enters the twilight years of his career, instead focusing more on reading games as a whole in order to affect the action in a way that is more beneficial for the team.
Messi has broken countless scoring records throughout his career, perhaps most notably having become the all-time leading scorer in La Liga, and is widely lauded as one of the greatest finishers in the history of the game.
The Argentine is closing in on the final years of his senior career, however, with his 33rd birthday arriving in June, and he admits that he is starting to “step back” more often these days and offer others the chance to apply the finishing touch.
“I think less and less about scoring goals,” Messi told La Liga on DAZN. “I'm starting to step back more and more to be the creator rather than the one who finishes.
“Obviously I like scoring and If have a chance I'll take it, but every time I go on to the pitch I'm less focused on scoring goals and more focused on the game. I've never been obsessed with goals.
“I understand that people will talk about it when I stop scoring so many, but that's part of the game, part of growing as a player and adapting to the times, to be the best player both for yourself and for the team.”
But while Messi will always be looked at to produce a piece of individual magic that could settle a match in his team's favour, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner admits to having gone through a frustrating drought upon his promotion to the first team at Camp Nou.
“There was a time I didn't score many goals,” he said. “I always scored goals both for Argentina and for Barcelona's youth team, but I had a hard time scoring during the first few years I played in the first team. I would either make mistakes or I was unlucky.
“I had so many chances but I couldn't score, until one day everything clicked and the ball started going in. It took me a few years before that happened.
“I remember [Samuel] Eto'o told me: 'the day you start scoring, you won't stop'.”