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Former Barca player says Messi 'could keep playing until 2025'

Luis Garcia thinks Lionel Messi will remain Barcelona's top guy until he turns 38.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--A former Barcelona player believes we may not see the last of current superstar Lionel Messi until probably in five years time.

"I could see him playing until 2025 easily!" exclaimed Luis Garcia in a recent interview.

The 33-year-old striker remains an offensive threat even if he is nearing the end of his prime.

Messi achieved a personal milestone recently after scoring his 700th goal in top flight action, whether with Barca or the Argentinian national team, although Barca's La Liga Santander title hopes suffered a huge slash after Atletico Madrid held the club to a 2-2 draw.

According to Garcia, who began carving his stardom when he joined Atleti for the 2002-03 season, one reason why Messi remains dominant despite Barca making some huge managerial changes is his ability to quickly embrace the system.

"He adapts his game to what the team needs in every game," Garcia further quipped. "He shows why he's intelligent."

Messi quickly made an impact after he was elevated to the first team, especially when he was inserted to the starting lineup in 2005, forming a "Big 3" up front with Ronaldinho and Sam Eto'o.

Under the tutelage of Manager Frank Rijkaard, Messi won five club championships, two LaLiga plums, two Supercopa pennants, and the 2006 UEFA Champions League title.

His biggest break came when Pep Guardiola stepped in to replace Rijkaard as head coach.

Now healthier than ever after getting hampered with injuries early into his Barca career, Messi led the charge for the club en route to a three-peat in La Liga and the Supercopa from 2009-2011, the 2009 Copa Del Rey title, and championships in the 2009 and 2011 editions of the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.

Even if Barca had some more coaching changes with Tito Vilanova, Tata Martino, Luis Enrique, Ernesto Valverde, and Quique Setien stepping in chronologically, Messi remained the main man for the club, winning five more La Liga crowns in a span of six seasons, a four-peat in the Copa Del Rey from 2015-2018, two Supercopa plums in 2016 and 2018, and the 2015 Champions League, Super Cup, and Club World Cup titles.

"Every year, he shows us something different but keeps up the same amount of goals, assists, even getting more every year!" Garcia thought of Messi's evolution into the franchise player that he has become.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno