Leo Messi is 30 now, and there's only one thing left to achieve in his career - win the World Cup. Will this summer be his last chance? Argentina made it all the way four years ago, but lost to Germany in the final. This time, they were lucky to qualify. For them to have any chance in Russia, the best player in the world needs to be at the very top of his game.
One person who knows this only too well is Claudio Tapia, the president of the Argentine football association. So much so, he's made the extraordinary claim that he's told Messi he should play less for Barcelona in the upcoming months as Argentina prepare for the World Cup, a claim that will certainly pique the interest of his club as they look to wrap up La Liga and add to their haul of Champions League title in the upcoming months.
Tapia, speaking to Argentine network TYC, claims he has already spoken to the player about his request.
I hope all the players arrive in the level they are at the moment. Sergio Aguero is playing outstanding right now and Lionel Messi is always at the top of his game.
That’s vital for the directors and the coaching staff. We have spoken to Messi about taking care of himself and about playing less for Barcelona.
It's unclear how much, if any, influence Tapia, who only became president last year, has over Messi, who has already started 33 games this season.
We somehow doubt that the Argentine captain will be too accommodating with this request, and we certainly don't think that the club who pay his wages or his coach Ernesto Valverde will take too kindly being told what to do with their prized asset.
In La Liga, Barcelona are seven points clear of Atletico Madrid, so there may be some wiggle room later in the season fro Messi to get some games off, but with the Champions League campaign just getting going, and a Copa Del Rey final to come, there's still a lot of football for Messi to play with Barcelona this season.
It's unlikely that Tapia's request will hold much water as they look towards completing the treble.