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Lionel Messi has given away his eighth Ballon d'Or trophy in wonderful gesture

Lionel Messi has given away his eighth Ballon d'Or trophy in wonderful gesture

Lionel Messi is no longer a Barcelona player but he clearly still loves the club.

Lionel Messi has given away his eighth Ballon d'Or trophy, just four months after he fended off competition from Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe to win the award.

The 36-year-old forward, who captained Argentina to a historic World Cup win in 2022, lifted the Ballon d'Or for a record-extending eighth time at a ceremony in Paris.

After scoring 21 goals and providing 20 assists for Paris Saint-Germain during the 2022/23 campaign, he was recognised for another memorable year for club and country.

Speaking on stage, he said: "Thank you very much, to share this with my national team-mates for what we were able to achieve with the national team. The entire group, the coaching staff, everyone involved.

"I’m delighted to be here once more to be able to enjoy this moment one more time."

Image credit: Getty
Image credit: Getty

Now, the Inter Miami forward has donated his most recent Ballon d'Or prize to the Barcelona museum, according to journalist Miquel Blazquez, who has provided an insight into his decision.

"Although he did not win it as a Barca footballer, the Argentine star has made the gesture of giving it up so that it can be displayed along with the other seven he has won," Blazquez said. "Impossible not to miss him."

Footage from the Barcelona museum soon emerged showing the 2023 Ballon d'Or trophy alongside the rest of Messi's achievements, including two Golden Boot awards.

You can see that clip below.

The section dedicated to Messi was first opened in 2016. In fact, it was the first time Barcelona had dedicated an exclusive space to a player who was still active.

Jordi Penas, the museum director, explained that the space was created in answer to a real demand from Barca fans who visited the popular Camp Nou Experience.

"The visitors really wanted something like this," he said. "They want to feel closer to Barca’s hero.

"It makes it clear that Barça is about emotions and sensations and that as well as showing our history. The club is also a world of excitement and fantasy and who better to show that excitement and fantasy than Leo Messi."

Image credit: X/@M30Xtra
Image credit: X/@M30Xtra

So could another Ballon d'Or trophy feature in the museum anytime soon? Messi gave a typically humble response when asked if he could win it for the ninth time in his career.

Speaking to L'Equipe last year, he said: "If I dream for the ninth Ballon d'Or? No, no, I stopped thinking about the Ballon d'Or a while ago, and winning it was never a priority for me, especially now that I have achieved everything in my career.

"I think it's the last Ballon d'Or and I'm happy to have achieved everything and be the player with eight Ballon d'Ors.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Lionel Messi, Ballon d'Or, Barcelona, Inter Miami, Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina

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