Ballon d'Or 2019: The moment of withdrawal is approaching - Messi unsure how long he will remain at the top

By Sports Desk December 02, 2019

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi acknowledged "the moment of withdrawal is approaching" after picking up a record sixth Ballon d'Or crown at Monday's ceremony in Paris.

Messi saw off stiff competition from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to win the award for the first time since 2015, moving him one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished third.

The 32-year-old has scored 41 goals in 44 club appearances this calendar year, but he is unsure just how long he will be able to maintain his incredible goalscoring form.

Speaking on stage after collecting the prestigious accolade, a decade on from his first triumph, Messi said: "To the journalists and my colleagues with whom I win and lose, I remember my first Ballon D'Or in Paris, when I arrived with my brothers, now I pick up the sixth, and this was absolutely unthinkable. 

"I never stopped dreaming and enjoying football like when I was a child. I hope I have more years to enjoy, although I am aware of how old I am, everything happens very quickly and I know that the moment of withdrawal is approaching."

Messi is into his 16th season with Barcelona and made his 700th appearance for the LaLiga champions in last week's 3-1 win against Borussia Dortmund.

The Ballon d'Or award has now been won by a player from Spain's top flight in each of the last 11 campaigns, with Luka Modric temporarily breaking Messi and Ronaldo's stronghold on the prize last year.

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    Contracted at Camp Nou until next year, Messi said he was happy in Barcelona, where he has spent his entire professional career.

    "I love Barcelona although I miss Rosario very much. This is my house, I was here longer than in Argentina," he told Mundo Deportivo. 

    "I love Barcelona, the place where I live, Castelldefels, and I live a life that I like very much."

    However, it has been a tumultuous period for Barcelona, who sacked Ernesto Valverde in January and have also endured off-field problems.

    Barca earlier this week denied allegations made by Spanish radio network Cadena SER that they hired a company to damage the image of people associated with the club, including Messi, by spreading negative messages on social media platforms.

    Messi said: "I really find it strange that something like this has happened, but they also said that there would be evidence.

    "We will have to wait to see if it is true or not. We cannot say much and we will wait to see what happens with all of this.

    "I really thought it was a strange subject."

    Messi was also involved in a public row with Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal earlier this month.

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    Reggae Boyz team manager, Roy Simpson, has pledged support for Darren Mattocks and said no decision would be taken regarding his position with the national team until a verdict in the case has been arrived at.

    Mattocks will formally be advised of the charges against him on February 27, though reports have already circulated that he has been charged with one count of making a false, fraudulent or incomplete insurance claim, and another count of theft by deception in Carroll Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

    “When I spoke with him, he was quite private with it. I didn’t press him about it. I just reached out to him to let him understand that the entire nation is aware of what has happened and that if he needs our support in any way, shape or form that he thinks we are capable of executing, we will assist,” Simpson explained on Jamaican radio station Hitz 92 FM during its programme, Sports Grill, earlier this week.

    According to reports, the charges stem from a single-car accident on January 20 last year.

    The reports, alleged to have come from the Attorney General’s office, said Mattocks and a passenger were aboard a BMW X6 from New York City to Cincinnati on State Route 70, near Monongahela, Pennsylvania, when the Reggae Boy lost control of the vehicle and crashed.

    According to those same reports, the insurance on the vehicle had lapsed at the time of the accident and Mattocks is alleged to have taken out a new policy hours after the accident before making a claim.

    Still, Simpson does not want to make too many waves until the case is complete.

    “I wouldn’t want to pre-empt a verdict because you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you defend a situation and it goes the other way, so everybody is awaiting the outcome,” said Simpson.

    The team manager also indicated that Mattocks was confident he would be vindicated when all was said and done.

    “When I spoke to him he was quite confident that he would be vindicated so we await,” said Simpson.

    The court case may have a very deleterious impact on Mattocks career in the MLS where he plays for FC Cincinnati.

    Other reports had suggested that Mattocks, who has scored just three goals in 21 appearances for Cincinnati, was at odds with the coach and, in essence, the franchise.

    “He also pointed out and we were aware that the relationship between himself and FC Cincinnati had been strained prior to this situation,” said Simpson, responding to reports that former Cincinnati coach, Ron Jans had said Mattocks was not in the team’s plans this season.

    “It is a fact that he had asked to be traded and this situation has put a hurdle in his way. Hopefully, he can get through it and then start playing again,” said Simpson.

    Mattocks is being represented by David J Shrager, who has pointed to Mattocks record of being a law-abiding citizen as part proof that the situation is just a misunderstanding.

    Mattocks is a veteran of eight years in the MLS, playing in 207 league games and scoring 40 goals for Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, and DC United, before his move to Cincinnati.

    Mattocks has also turned out for the Reggae Boyz 45 times, scoring 15 goals along the way.

    “My client respects both the laws of both his native country [Jamaica] and the United States. He has never been in any kind of criminal trouble whatsoever in his life, and this matter is merely a misunderstanding regarding insurance laws here in Pennsylvania. We look forward to clearing up this matter. We have been cooperating with the courts and continue to do so. We look forward to resolving this matter expeditiously,” read a statement from Shrager’s office.

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