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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde dropped a hint that Lionel Messi's retirement isn't too far away despite the Argentine ace showing no signs of slowing down.
Messi won a record-breaking sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday after scoring 54 goals for club and country in 2019 and was quoted as saying he was enjoying the moment more because his "retirement is nearing".
And while, at 32, there's still plenty of time for Messi to add to his 684 career goals and his busy trophy cabinet, there will be a day where we can no longer watch him strut his stuff.
"It's something natural, it seems normal, Leo is 32-years-old and although I don't think he's thinking about retiring now it's something which is in the air," Valverde said in his press conference ahead of the game against RCD Mallorca, as per the Daily Mail.
"But I don't think we should go crazy about it, we have to look at it naturally.
"Everyone thinks about retirement when they get to a certain age, but just because he's thinking about it doesn't mean he's going to retire in the next three days."
Valverde has managed Messi for over two years now, with the pair winning back-to-back La Liga titles, the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa Espana.
Barca's all-time top scorer has scored 110 goals in his time playing under the Spaniard, who knows coaching a phenomenon like Messi is a rarity.
"I'm aware of how lucky I am but sometimes the demands of everyday life means you are not allowed to enjoy everything. I think you appreciate these things more with time," he added.
"I'm aware that I have the enormous fortune of being able to say in a few years I coached Leo.
'"In the same way that older people talk about Di Stefano, we will be able to tell future generations that we lived through the Messi era and some people like me will be able to say we enjoyed it close by."
However, Messi's strike partner and friend Luis Suarez feels his comments after his sixth Ballon d'Or were a tad misinterpreted and believes he still has many years remaining.
"When someone wins a Ballon d'Or they are happy but also nervous," Suarez told beIN Sports.
"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."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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