After a dazzling start to his career in Major League Soccer, Lionel Messi returns to international duty with Argentina this week as South America's long qualifying road to the 2026 World Cup kicks off on Thursday.

Nine months ago, Messi crowned his glittering career by leading Argentina to a World Cup crown in Qatar cementing his status as the greatest player of his generation.

Since that magical night in Doha, the diminutive 36-year-old superstar's life has gone through a period of upheaval.