He will surely find the net like in the past campaigns but Lionel Messi dropped a hint that goalscoring is no longer the focus of his football game. The Argentine said his mindset is more attuned to team effort and he is looking for ways to contribute other than breaking scoring records.
The Barcelona captain earned his six Ballon d'Or awards through prolific goalscoring. His 635 goals in 16 seasons at Camp Nou remain the best for the La Liga giants. It seemed, however, that topping these numbers is no longer a priority for Messi.
Indeed, the 33-year-old is rather slow in scoring when the competition resumed for the season. Barcelona already played three La Liga matches and the skipper's scoresheet only reads a single point. But it doesn't mean that the Barca superstar is not hard at work - he is, in fact, setting up his teammates to join the scoring column.
Goal said Messi figured in many goals completed by his teammates and that translated to 21 assists last season, a record in La Liga history. The star said it should serve as an indicator that his game is refocusing.
"Today I am less obsessed with goals, I try to contribute as much as I can to the team effort," Messi was reported as saying.
The shift came following the star's controversial transfer request made in August. Messi pressed for his sudden exit from Barcelona but the Spaniards insisted with a live contract, the move away will require a transfer fee of around £630 million.
The forward was also rumored to sign with Manchester City if the Catalans would release him but he decided to see through the end of his contract in 2021 to avoid legal troubles. And it can be said that for Messi, the season will serve as a transition period as he is expected to start negotiating for a transfer in the January transfer window.
Where exactly Messi will head next remains an intriguing question but there was a time he could have left the club back in 2013. Picking up from the details shared by Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio in a new book, AS reported that Real Madrid tried to sign the Barca star with a payment offer of £450,000 per week.
Real president Florentino Perez had wanted to sign Messi to an eight-year contract, which the Argentine did not even bother to review. The offer was immediately rejected with the star declaring he was not interested.
"I'm not going to Real, you're wasting your time," Mess was reported to have said at that time.
In turning down the bid from Madrid, Messi also let go of a sizeable amount of money, estimated to be an annual salary of £21, plus a commission for his agent, who is Messi's father. But it was a different time and situation then.