Lionel Messi to retire soon? Ernesto Valverde makes big statement

In a statement that would lead to concern among Lionel Messi fans, Barcelona manager has stated that the Argentine may retire sooner than expected.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi won the Ballon d'Or for a record sixth time Ballon d'Or twitter page

For Lionel Messi fans, this news is going to come as a bit of a shocker. Barcelona's manager Ernesto Valverde has set the heartbeat racing with his comments that the legendary Argentinian footballer may well be thinking about retiring.

"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," Valverde stated.

However, to ensure that there is no panic attack, the Barca manager also clarified that the retirement is not going to happen too soon. "But just because he's thinking about it doesn't mean he's going to retire in the next three days."

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde . Reuters

The former Spanish footballer went on to speak about how fortunate he feels to have worked with the six-time winner of Ballon d'Or.

"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. 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," Valverde added.

These statements come at a time when Messi has regained the top spot among footballers in the world by winning his sixth Ballon d'Or. His biggest rival, Christiano Ronaldo was once trailing him by 1-5 in the number of Ballon d'Or titles. Then, the Portuguese star caught up and levelled things up. Messi has now gone one better. At this stage, his fans would hate for him to walk away.