Barcelona star Lionel Messi said he could never imagine playing for 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ winners Spain, despite living in the country since his formative years. Messi came to Barça in 2000 and has spent half his life outside Argentina, yet la pulga told TyCSports.com that he would always be Argentinian.
"Let's not forget that I have spent almost as many years living in Barcelona as in Argentina and that leaves you with divided loyalties, but it doesn't change your true colours," said the man who has already won 13 major honours in the game, including the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
He added he could not understand the criticism of his absence from last week's goalless friendly against Costa Rica in San Jose. The 23-year-old missed the match with a leg injury, with Costa Rican fans expecting him to be the star attraction.
"I want to be clear that there was no pressure of any kind from Barcelona [not to play]. I couldn't play as I had pulled a leg muscle and I don't understand the reason for such a storm," said Messi.
Asked if he had divided loyalties between club and country he said: "I love the national side, but I also love my club."
After a season finale in which he hopes to lead Barça to a La Liga and UEFA Champions League title, Messi will turn his focus to the Copa America, where he hopes to lead his country to glory on home soil.