Messi: Why I rejected Spain…

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi claims ‘it wouldn’t be the same’ if he won the World Cup with Spain but has tipped them for the Russian showpiece this summer.

Messi was eligible to represent Spain before he opted for Argentina, but the No 10 revealed he rejected the advances of their Under-17 team, going on to score 61 goals in 123 caps for the country of his birth.

“Barca? It’s increasingly clear to me that Barcelona are going to be the only European club I play for,” he told Canal 13.

“If I played for Spain? A friend of mine told me that I’d now be a world champion if I’d played for Spain, but it wouldn’t have been the same.

“Being a champion with Argentina would be something unique. I was 16 years old and, half in jest and half serious, the Coach of the Under-17s put it to me.

“It happened in Finland and Cesc [Fabregas] was my teammate at time. That’s where it all stems from, but at no time did the thought or any doubts cross my mind.

“World Cup? We have players of experience and ability in our squad, that’s why we can get excited.

“We have to go match by match. Starting with a win is very important. The favourites are Brazil, Spain and Germany.”

Tags 2018 World Cup Argentina Lionel Messi Spain