Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi has all but ruled out moving into management when he hangs up his boots.
The 35-year-old is entering the final phase of his playing career, having won a record seven Ballons d’Or, including the most recent award in 2021. The upcoming World Cup will be his fifth for La Albiceleste, equalling a record held by only a handful of players, but he expects it to be his last.
Messi has spoken about his potential post-retirement plans, having spent his career working under a number of former players who moved into coaching after calling time on playing. However, he does not expect to follow the path of Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, under whom he won his four Champions League titles at former club Barcelona.
“I don’t really intend to be a coach, but [former Real Madrid manager Zinedine] Zidane said exactly that and, after that, he became a coach and won Champions League 3 times,” Messi told Star+ . “I like sporting director, team building, accompanying coaches, but I’m not entirely sure, either.”
Zidane won the Champions League as a player with Real Madrid in 2002, scoring the winning goal in the final against Bayer Leverkusen. Upon retiring three years later, management didn’t appear to be in his plans.
Eventually, though, he took over as head coach of Real Madrid Castilla in 2014 before taking charge of the first team in two separate spells. As manager of Los Blancos, the French international won the Champions League three times and La Liga twice.
If Messi does move into a sporting director or “team building” role, he would be following a path trodden by a number of ex-players. Champions League winner Hasan Salihamidzic holds such a position with his former club Bayern Munich, while Edu’s technical director role at Arsenal sees him work closely with manager Mikel Arteta.
Before then, though, Messi has unfinished business at club level. He already has eight goals this season for PSG, just three fewer than he managed in all of last season, with a midweek effort against Benfica helping the French champions remain top of their Champions League group.
Despite this, speculation over a return to former club Barcelona continues to gather pace. While there has been no direct contact over such a transfer, and PSG are believed to be keen to extend his stay in the French capital, comments from Barca president Joan Laporta have added fuel to the fire.
“We have a moral debt with him in this sense,” Laporta recently said with regards to Messi. “We would like the end of his career to be with the Barca shirt and being applauded in all fields.”