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Lionel Messi's Barcelona Retirement Hint 'Misinterpreted,' Says Luis Suarez

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 01: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with Luis Suarez during the Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano on December 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Barcelona's Luis Suarez believes Lionel Messi's comments about his potential retirement on receiving his sixth Ballon d'Or have been "misinterpreted." 

The Argentinian superstar won the prestigious gong for a record sixth time at a ceremony in Paris on Monday, and in his acceptance speech he said "the moment of withdrawal is approaching."

B/R Football @brfootball

Messi cooked up something magical in 2019 🧙 https://t.co/UEUrFiARn4

For many, it was an admission that Messi's playing days could soon come to an end. 

However, Suarez has said his Blaugrana team-mate still has plenty left to give, per beIN Sports (h/t Goal's Dejan Kalinic):

"[Messi] amazes me because he is a one-off and is making history. As a friend and team-mate, [the Ballon d'Or] makes me happy and proud because it's a beautiful moment for him.

"[His comments] were misinterpreted. When someone wins a Ballon d'Or they are happy but also nervous. Leo is a human being and gets nervous like the rest of us. He wanted to say he might have to contend with retiring in a couple of years. It was misunderstood, but I'm sure Leo Messi will continue for a long while yet."

Messi turned 32 in June, but he has displayed no signs recently that he is slowing down.

The intelligence he has gained over more than a decade playing at the peak of his powers—he won his first Ballon d'Or in 2009—have given him experience to make up for any pace he may have lost.

His return of 36 goals in La Liga in 2018-19 won him a record sixth European Golden Shoe award, and he already has nine in nine Spanish top-flight appearances this term despite missing the start of the campaign due to a foot injury.

B/R Football @brfootball

Lionel Messi in 2019: —10th Spanish league title —A record-sixth European Golden Shoe —Pichichi number six —FIFA's The Best award —First player to win six Ballons d'Or 🐐 https://t.co/aHohjmbZr8

The Argentina international cannot carry on forever, but unlike his rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is nearly 35, his numbers remain as good as they were when he was in his mid-20s.

As well as his goals, Messi provided 13 assists in La Liga last term for a combined contribution of 49 goals, exactly the same as his return in 2010-11 (31 goals, 18 assists).

Messi's current contract at Camp Nou runs to the end of the 2020-21 season. 

Given how brilliant he continues to be, it would be a surprise were he to decide to call it a day when that deal expires instead of continuing on.