BARCELONA - Lionel Messi has no plans to become a coach when he retires from playing, saying he is more interested in being a director of football than working in the unforgiving world of football management.
The 33-year-old Argentine forward has about six months left on his contract with Barcelona and the football world is on tenterhooks over whether he will stay at the club where he has spent the last 20 years or look for a new challenge.
"I don't see myself as a coach, perhaps a sporting director to hire players I want or that the club that I'm at needs," Messi said in an interview with Spanish network La Sexta on Sunday.
Messi, six-times world player of the year, will wait until the end of the season before making his mind up but said he would like to return to Barca, regardless of what he does next.
"I would like to tell the Barca fans that I'm not sure whether I'll leave or not but hypothetically speaking, I would like to leave in the best way possible," he said.
"I'd like to return one day, I would like to return to the city, to work for the club and contribute. I haven't thought about it too much but it will be something related with football, because that's what I like and what I know."
Messi, who moved to Barca aged 13 and has become their all-time top scorer and most decorated player, acknowledged he had hurt the club's supporters when he tried to leave last summer.
"Fans will cheer for their player as long as he is at their club but they do not forgive everything," he said.
"My relationship with the club and the city is a story of love. However it ends, it should not stain what I've lived in my career."
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)