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Lionel Messi Talks Future, Says Love for Barcelona 'Goes Beyond Any Signature'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2019

PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 02: Lionel Messi (ARG / FC Barcelona) poses onstage with after winning his sixth Ballon D'Or award during the Ballon D'Or Ceremony at Theatre Du Chatelet on December 02, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)
Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Lionel Messi eased concerns over his Barcelona future on Monday after he won his sixth Ballon d'Or. 

The Argentinian's contract at the Camp Nou expires in 2021, and Messi said of the situation: "The people at the club know me. They know there's no problem beyond what the contract says. What I feel for this club goes beyond any signature or any role. So there isn't a problem."

He also discussed retirement and suggested he has some way to go before hanging up his boots: "I'm 32 already and on my way to 33. I said a long time ago that it all depends on how I feel physically. But today I feel better than ever on a physical and personal level, so hopefully I can stretch it out a lot more."

The Spanish Football Podcast relayed further comments from him on the matter:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

Messi: "I'm aware of my age and you enjoy these moments even more because the time for retirement gets closer. It's difficult. I've got a few years left, but at moments like this, it feels like time flies" https://t.co/uqEBoXF2FY

Grup 14's Rafael Hernandez expects him to enjoy plenty more years at the top level:

Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117

Messi keeps talking about retiring, but he’s 32 years old. He will play at a high level until he’s 40 if he wants to.

Messi's victory on Monday means he now stands alone when it comes to Ballon d'Or victories.

He had been level with longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo on five, with the pair having surpassed the previous record of three, which had been jointly held by Michel Platini, Marco van Basten and Johan Cruyff.

Ronaldo—who finished third behind Messi and Virgil van Dijk—did not attend the ceremony in Paris.

The Juventus man instead collected an award in Italy:

B/R Football @brfootball

Meanwhile in Italy, @Cristiano is awarded the Player of the Year award 🏆🇮🇹 https://t.co/nVZmJmArP5

He did not attend FIFA's The Best awards in September, either, in which he missed out on the men's gong to Messi.

Messi did not want to make an issue of his absence, though: "He's not here because he couldn't be here. It shouldn't be twisted. We enjoyed a great gala."

Despite being 32, the forward is showing little sign of slowing down with age.

He bagged 51 goals and 22 assists for Barcelona in 50 appearances last season. In this campaign, he's found the net 11 times and set up a team-mate on eight occasions in 14 games.

Messi scored the decisive goal in Sunday's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid:

Premier Sports 📺 @PremierSportsTV

Lionel Messi 😍 This incredible winning goal in last night's win over Atletico Madrid 🔥 6th Ballon d'Or incoming tonight? 🥇 #MondayMotivation https://t.co/FuQaXbwz2m

That he has little more than 18 months remaining on his contract may well be a source of worry for the club and supporters alike.

It seems he's committed to remaining there, though. Given he's helped Barcelona win 10 out of a possible 15 La Liga titles since his debut for the club in 2004, keeping him at the Camp Nou is paramount.