Argentina‘s president Alberto Fernandez has called on Lionel Messi to return to his homeland and end his career with Newell’s Old Boys.
Messi’s future has dominated headlines over the past week after he handed in a shock transfer request at Barcelona.
Any Camp Nou exit is now shrouded in controversy with La Liga recently declaring the Argentine attacker isn’t allowed to leave the club for anything short of his mammoth €700 million (£624m/$823m) release clause.
At 33 years of age and on the back of another strong season individually, Messi can still clearly compete at a top European club but that hasn’t stopped Argentinians dreaming of a possible homecoming.
Fans of Newell’s Old Boys recently paraded through the streets of Rosario in support of Messi returning to the club he represented as a junior and now Argentina’s president has also voiced his desire to see such a reunion sooner or later.
“You are in our hearts and we have never seen you play in our country,” Fernandez said in a message directed at Messi via C5N.
“Give us the pleasure of ending your career with Newell’s Old Boys, your club.”
Fernandez, who supports Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors, went on to admit he remains a bigger fan of Diego Maradona.
“The great merit of Maradona is that he played alone against the world,” Fernandez said. “I’ve never seen a player like Maradona. I admire him deeply – more than Messi, to be honest, because he comes from the Argentinos’ youth. He was a kind of gladiator, with incredible strength.”
Messi’s battle to secure a move away from Barca is now threatening to become a drawn-out saga, even though he has already decided that he no longer wishes to play for the club.
The 33-year-old purposely failed to report for medical testing at the club’s training facility ahead of the new season in order to put pay to any lingering doubts over his mindset.