Barcelona star Lionel Messi admits he is a very different player to the one who burst on to the scene a decade ago.
The four-time Ballon d’Or winner has reached 300 games in La Liga for the Camp Nou club and has earned 95 caps for Argentina, despite still being only 27.
Having enjoyed a largely injury-free start to his senior career, the forward has struggled in the past 18 months with some muscular problems and he concedes he must now manage his body differently.
Speaking at a sponsor’s event, he said: “I am not 17, 18, 19, 20 or 21 years old any more, when your body doesn’t feel the strain.
“You get older and you feel it. Now I make more of an effort to look after myself at half-time and be careful about what I eat.
“I have changed a lot since I first started out. I’m more mature and I have learned things both on and off the pitch. Some of the old Messi is still here, but not much.”
Messi’s future was shrouded in doubt at the turn of the year but the forward is adamant he is now happy once more with life at Camp Nou.
“I feel fine,” he added. “I’m happy with the way things are going.
“I want to keep helping this team. Last year was not a good one for us. There were too many problems on and off the pitch. But I hope all that changes this year.”
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