Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has said the football world must get used to the idea that Lionel Messi will retire in the near future, adding that he will cherish being able to tell people he was able to coach the Argentine.
Messi was crowned world player of the year for a record sixth time when he received the Ballon d’Or in Paris on Monday and set alarm bells ringing by saying in his speech “you enjoy these moments more because my retirement is getting nearer”.
In his statement, Valverde says:
“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,”
“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.”
“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.
“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.”