Lionel Messi looks set to disappoint those hoping to see him grace the Premier League after declaring he wants to end his career with Barcelona as he picked up his fifth Ballon d’Or award on Monday.
Messi, who had already won the biggest individual accolade in world football on more occasions than anyone else, claimed it for the first time in three years after being part of a Barca side that secured five titles in 2015.
The man who had pushed him into second for the last two years, Real Madrid’s three-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, finished as runner-up this time, while Messi’s fellow Barca frontman Neymar came third.
And 28-year-old Argentina international Messi said after being presented with the world player of the year award in Zurich: “A year ago, we were all getting criticised, and we ended up winning nearly everything. My intention is to terminate my career where I started it in Barcelona.
“It is a very special moment for me to be back here on this stage, winning again another Ballon d’Or after being there in the audience watching Cristiano win.
“It’s incredible this is my fifth. It’s much more than anything I’ve dreamed of as a kid.”
While Portugal hitman Ronaldo scored more goals than Messi during 2015, netting 54 for Madrid, it was not enough for his side to win any silverware.
In contrast, Messi – scorer of 48 club goals over the calendar year – helped Barca win the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble, plus the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
He formed a deadly attacking triumvirate for the Catalan outfit, along with Brazil international Neymar and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.
It has been revealed that Suarez was Messi’s own personal choice for the award.
And, quoted by as.com, Messi said: “Luis deserves to be here because he is an extraordinary player and he has helped us a lot.
“Hopefully I can be here one day with Luis and Neymar, that would be amazing.”
Neither Messi nor Ronaldo voted for each other in their respective top threes, with the former choosing a trio of Barca team-mates in Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta, and Ronaldo also selecting three club colleagues in Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.
But regarding feelings between him and Ronaldo, Messi insisted: “We’ve always had a good relationship. There has always been respect and admiration between us.”
Messi – the Ballon d’Or winner in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well – secured 41.33 per cent of the vote this time, with Ronaldo getting 27.76 per cent and Neymar 7.86 per cent.
Monday’s ceremony also saw Barca boss Luis Enrique named men’s world coach of the year, while in the equivalent category for women’s football, England boss Mark Sampson came third, with United States counterpart Jill Ellis taking the award.
Sampson guided his side to third place at last summer’s World Cup, which was won by Ellis’ team. US midfielder Carli Lloyd claimed the women’s world player of the year gong.