Lionel Messi Talks Newell's Old Boys 'Dream,' Argentina World Cup Hopes

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2017

Barcelona's forward Lionel Messi from Argentina attends a training session on the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match Juventus Vs Barcelona on November 21, 2017 at the 'Juventus Stadium' in Turin.  / AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO        (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
MARCO BERTORELLO/Getty Images

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has restated his desire to one day return to boyhood club Newell's Old Boys but revealed he has doubts about returning to Argentina with his family.

Messi, 30, left Rosario-based Newell's to join Barca's academy in 2001, and he has often expressed his interest in returning to the club before he retires, but he has now said he has some concerns about such a move, per TyC Sports (via Marca):

"I've said many times that my dream is to play at Newell's but I don't know what will happen, and a part of that doubt is due to the way the country is at the moment. I have a family and my children come first, and then me. I want them to grow up in a calm place, being able to enjoy life with security.

"It is very ugly to see the things that happen in Argentina, that you can go out on the street and people want to rob you and that they can kill you."

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner recently signed a new deal with Barcelona that runs to 2021.

By the time that contract expires, Messi will be 34 years old and potentially considering retirement. It would seem like the ideal time to return to Argentina and finish his career at Newell's, but clearly he has misgivings.

Messi will lead the Argentina national side at the 2018 FIFA World Cup next summer with the Albiceleste looking to go one better than they did in 2014 when they lost in the final to Germany.

Jorge Sampaoli's side almost failed to qualify for the tournament, but a Messi hat-trick in their final qualifier against Ecuador secured their spot in Russia.

Last Friday's World Cup draw saw Argentina pitted against Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in one of the tougher groups, per football writer Nick Ames:

Messi has said Argentina will be under pressure to perform at the World Cup and need to improve their form if they are to compete for the trophy, per TYC Sports (via Marca): 

"We went through a tough spell. But it's true that we have to improve if we aspire to be world champions. As we are today, we are not far from that although there are better teams than us such as Brazil, Germany, France and Spain. The criticism went beyond normal and went beyond football. The bitterness we feel is because we know what awaits us if we do badly. People want results and, if they don't get results, they want new faces."

At one point it looked as though Messi may not be at the 2018 World Cup even if Argentina did qualify after he announced his international retirement in June 2016 after a second successive Copa America final defeat to Chile.

It was Argentina's third major final defeat in as many years, and Messi said at the time, per BBC Sport: "For me, the national team is over. I've done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion."

He subsequently reversed his decision and will be the linchpin of a talented Argentina side as they aim to win the World Cup next year.