Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has said he is thinking "less and less" about scoring goals at this point in his career.
The 32-year-old has been one of the most prolific players in the game throughout his senior career. However, in recent years his game has evolved, developing from a wide forward into a false nine and now into a player who drops deeper to midfield.
Speaking about his changes as a footballer, Messi said his game is becoming geared more towards playmaking than scoring, per DAZN (h/t Stephen Crawford of Goal):
"I think less and less about scoring goals. I'm starting to step back more and more to be the creator rather than the one who finishes.
"Obviously I like scoring, and If have a chance I'll take it, but every time I go on to the pitch I'm less focused on scoring goals and more focused on the game. I've never been obsessed with goals.
"I understand that people will talk about it when I stop scoring so many, but that's part of the game, part of growing as a player and adapting to the times, to be the best player both for yourself and for the team."
Messi appears more intent on orchestrating attacks rather than finishing them at this stage, and there's little doubt the Barcelona star has the ability to create chances for team-mates.
La Liga looked at a recent opportunity the forward conjured and reflected on his consistent output in terms of assists:
ESPN FC noted Messi was the most creative player in the game over the course of the previous decade:
When he drops into deeper positions, Messi is afforded more time in possession. In these areas he's adept at dribbling past opponents who get too tight, while defenders who drop off are susceptible to the Barcelona star dropping passes into dangerous areas.
Despite the changes in his role, Messi has been able to remain prolific.
Messi won the European Golden Shoe prize again last season, making it six successes in total:
This season, the Barcelona forward missed the start of the campaign due to injury problems, although he's more than made up for lost time. He's already netted 13 La Liga goals in as many starts, putting him one goal ahead of Karim Benzema in the race for the Pichichi trophy.
Messi's ability to retain his goalscoring edge while managing matches and creating chances is a testament to his remarkable natural talent. It suggests that regardless of what he focuses on in the coming years, he'll be able to continue having a huge influence on matches.