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."
Koeman grateful for Messi support in transitional season for Barca
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman is grateful to Lionel Messi for endorsing his appointment and praising his impact even though they are enduring their worst start to a season in 33 years.
Messi said a young team were growing under the Dutchman as they bid to improve on their current fifth place in La Liga, eight points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
"I'm not sure if it makes me more calm but I'm grateful because he's a very important player to this club and in the world of football, so anyone would be happy for him to speak well about them," Koeman told a news conference on Monday.
"But I feel the same way, I'm trying to get the team to move forward. It's a transitional year with lots of changes but he's still a very important part of this team and if he can help us improve more for the rest of this season we can be happy."
Messi, who is heading into the final six months of his contract with Barca, will miss Tuesday's home game against Eibar due to an ankle injury but should be fit to face Huesca on January 3.
French winger Ousmane Dembele is set to return to the team against Eibar after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Eibar are hovering above the relegation zone but gave champions Real Madrid good game this month before losing 3-1.
"They are a very competitive team, who always try to press their opponents high up the pitch," Koeman said.
"We will have to play well and make the most of the space when they press us. If we're not on top form, it'll be a tough game."