Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has warned the football-loving fans to get used to the idea of football wizard Lionel Messi retiring in the near future. He further added that he would cherish his time as an Argentina coach, where he coached Messi, the number 1 forward in the ESPN FC 100.
The Argentine was crowned as the player of the year for a record sixth time on Monday, when he received the Ballon d’Or in Paris, and gave hints of his retirement when he said, “you enjoy these moments more because my retirement is getting nearer.”
Ahead of Barcaleno’s La Liga game at home against Real Mallorca on Saturday, Valverde stated,
“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.”
He also added that he may begin to appreciate Messi’s greatness and importance in a year’s time, comparing his impact on the game of football as that of the late Argentine Alfredo di Stefano, who had led Real Madrid to five successive European Cups.
“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.”
Messi has scored 11 goals this year for Barca, who now have 31 points – the same as Real Madrid.