Newell’s Old Boys target Messi’s return

Barcelona's football star Lionel Messi (2ndL) leaves the courthouse on June 2, 2016 in Barcelona. The 28-year-old football star was cheered and jeered as he emerged from a van accompanied by his father Jorge Horacio Messi. The two are accused of using a chain of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros ($4.6 million) of Messi's income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-09. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE

Lionel Messi’s boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys are confident of luring the Barcelona star back to the club before he retires from football.

Messi played for club Newell’s until he moved to Barcelona to join their famous La Masia academy as a 14-year-old.

Newell’s vice president Cristian D’Amico in an interview with FourFourTwo said: “I am convinced, like many of my peers, that we can make history as a club if we get the best player in the world in a Newell’s shirt.

“I think we’re going to get the pleasure of Messi wearing the shirt.” The club’s vice president said.

A lifelong supporter of Newell’s Old Boys, Messi joined the Rosario club when he was six years old. During the six years he played for Newell’s, he scored almost 500 goals as a member of “The Machine of ’87”, the near-unbeatable youth side named for the year of their birth, and regularly entertained crowds by performing ball tricks during half-time of the first team’s home games.

However, his future as a professional player was threatened when, at age 10, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. As his father’s health insurance covered only two years of growth hormone treatment, which cost at least $1,000 per month, Newell’s agreed to contribute, but later reneged on their promise.

Messi was scouted by Buenos Aires club River Plate, whose playmaker, Pablo Aimar, he idolised, but they were also unable to pay for his treatment due to the country’s economic collapse.