By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Lionel Messi cemented his place alongside football’s gods on Monday night then dashed the hopes of Chelsea and Manchester City.
Barcelona’s magician lifted the Ballon d’Or for a fifth time at a glitzy ceremony in Zurich and then insisted he will not be coming to the Premier League.
Chelsea and City have been linked with £100million-plus moves for the Argentine all-time great but he has no intention of leaving the club where he has spent his entire career.
“I’ve always said that (I can’t leave Barcelona),” Messi said after beating Neymar and Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or title. “It’s always my response. I want to finish my career at home. My home is Barcelona. My intention is to terminate my career where it started, in Barcelona.
“I want to keep succeeding with the club. Football changes so much. A year ago, we were all getting criticised and we ended up winning nearly everything. Now is not the time to think about whether this is (my) peak. It’s more important that we keep trying to win, that we work hard. It’s a lot to think about.”
Messi enjoyed a remarkable 12 months, winning five trophies and scoring 48 goals in 53 games, but he made it clear he has no intention of showcasing his talents anywhere other than the Nou Camp. Pep Guardiola may be heading for Manchester City, but the Argentine is not planning a reunion.
Upon receiving the accolade, Messi said: “It is a very special moment for me to be back on this stage having watched Cristiano (Ronaldo) win it for the last two years.
“It is incredible that it is my fifth Ballon d’Or, it is more than anything I could have dreamed of when I was a kid. I want to thank all my team-mates as without them none of this would be possible. I also want to thank football for everything, both the good and the bad. It has made me learn.”
Messi, asked about his highlight of 2015 and what the motivation is to keep going when he has already won everything, replied: “I try to beat my previous self and reach all our goals. Last year thankfully I managed to reach almost all of them. It was an amazing year that filled us with pride after such good work. It is hard to single out one moment. Our year was full of happiness and victories. It is hard to pick one.
“These are good players (at Barcelona) with extraordinary quality. We hope that they are going to make us grow. I feel proud of having achieved everything that I have achieved, all my titles. It is always harder to win when you have won before. To come here for the ninth time is truly amazing.”