Lionel Messi insisted he will finish his career at Barcelona, categorically ruling out a move to any other club after winning his fifth Ballon d'Or on Monday.
Reports have sporadically linked the Argentinian superstar with a move to the Premier League over the last year, with Martin Lipton of the Sun suggesting he could reunite with former manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City next season.
However, Messi, 28, dealt a major blow to potential suitors by stating his intention to stay at the Camp Nou until he hangs up his boots, per the Daily Mail's Dominic King:
I want to keep succeeding with the club. Now is not the time to think about whether this is (my) peak. It’s more important that we keep trying to win, that we work hard. It’s a lot to think about.
I’ve always said that (I can’t leave Barcelona). It’s always my response. I want to finish my career at home. My home is Barcelona. Football changes so much. A year ago, we were all getting criticised and we ended up winning nearly everything. My intention is to terminate my career where it started, in Barcelona.
Messi capped a phenomenal 2015—in which Barcelona won the Champions League, La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup—with a deserved Ballon d'Or triumph ahead of team-mate Neymar and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, per Bleacher Report's Dean Jones and Sam Tighe:
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Messi's goal and assist return for the year was remarkable, particularly since he was absent for much of the 2015-16 season's early stages after suffering a knee injury, per Sport Extra HD:
Sport Extra HD @SportExtraHD
Lionel #Messi in 2015: Games: 61 Goals: 52 Assists: 26 Trophies: 5 https://t.co/m5hglQ1dYX1/11/2016, 10:32:07 AM
It's no surprise that reports often link him with a variety of Europe's top clubs, and there is little doubt that the addition of Messi would improve any team.
But rumours of a potential departure for the La Masia graduate always seemed unlikely, and he has ruled out the possibility.
Messi has been with the Catalan club since he was 13 years old, and he has been staggeringly successful, winning seven La Liga titles and four Champions League titles.
While it would be fascinating to see how he would fare in another division, it is hardly shocking that he wishes to remain at Barcelona for the rest of his career.
Messi could have no better prospects of continuing his immense success anywhere else. Alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar, he forms part of the most devastating attacking trio in the world, and perhaps of all time, according to Eurosport's Desmond Kane.
Barca are one of the favourites to win the Champions League again this season, and although they sit two points back from Atletico Madrid in the La Liga standings, they have a game in hand.
It would be baffling for Messi to leave a club in such rude health, and based on his latest comments, such a prospect has never crossed his mind.
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