Messi vows to fin­ish ca­reer at Barca

. . . as Ar­gen­tine wins fifth Bal­lon d’or

Lesotho Times - - Sport - — ESPN/REUTERS

ZURICH — Lionel Messi says he wants to fin­ish his ca­reer at Barcelona, end­ing any spec­u­la­tion that he is set to leave the club in the near fu­ture.

Af­ter win­ning a his­toric fifth Bal­lon d’or at Mon­day’s cer­e­mony in Zurich, the Ar­gen­tine said it his in­ten­tion to fin­ish his ca­reer where he started -- “at home” in Barcelona.

“I’ve al­ways said that I don’t want to leave Barcelona,” Messi said. “It’s al­ways the same re­sponse. My idea is I want to fin­ish my ca­reer at home, and my home is Barca.”

The words will come as a blow to clubs like Premier League Manch­ester City and Chelsea, who had felt they have an out­side chance of sign­ing Messi af­ter some of the un­rest the play­maker has re­port­edly ex­pe­ri­enced at the Camp Nou in the past year.

Messi re­ferred to some of those dif­fi­cul­ties in the mixed zone af­ter the cer­e­mony, ac­knowl­edg­ing the crit­i­cism he and his team had re­ceived at this ex­act point last year, when Cris­tiano Ron­aldo won the award and Barcelona had failed to win any tro­phies in 2014.

But he in­sisted that no mat­ter what he has al­ways wanted to stay with Barcelona.

“Foot­ball has many twists,” he said. “A year ago, we were all get­ting crit­i­cised and we ended up win­ning nearly ev­ery­thing.

“My in­ten­tion is to end my ca­reer where I started it in Barcelona.”

The 28-year-old Ar­gen­tine had 41.33 per­cent of the vote, with Real Madrid for­ward Ron­aldo (27.76 per­cent) se­cond and Barca’s Ney­mar (7.86 per­cent) third.

Ei­ther Messi or Ron­aldo, who be­came a three-time win­ner last year, have won the past eight awards.

Messi ex­tended his record haul of world player of the year awards with his fifth af­ter win­ning the tre­ble - La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Cham­pi­ons League - with Barcelona in 2014-15.

Por­tu­gal cap­tain Ron­aldo (30) scored 57 goals in as many games in 2015 - in­clud­ing a record 16 in the Cham­pi­ons League - but that was not enough to win him Bal­lon d’or num­ber four.

Barcelona striker Ney­mar, 23, was the first Brazil­ian to fin­ish in the top three since Kaka won the 2007 award.

He scored 45 goals in 62 games and is joint top scorer in this sea­son’s La Liga with 15, level with team-mate Luis Suarez.

“It’s a very spe­cial mo­ment for me to be back here on this stage, win­ning again an­other Bal­lon d’or af­ter see­ing Cris­tiano win it,” Messi said.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble that it’s my fifth... much more than any­thing I would have dreamed of as a kid.”

Messi’s 2015 in num­bers 61 games, 52 goals and 26 as­sists. A goal ev­ery 101 min­utes and an as­sist ev­ery 202 min­utes. Best min­utes-per-goal rate - 80 - of any­one scor­ing a min­i­mum of 10 goals across Europe’s top five leagues dur­ing 2015. Di­rectly in­volved in 49 goals in La Liga - 34 scored and 15 as­sists - which was the joint-most with Ron­aldo in 2015 across the top five Euro­pean leagues. Scored in all six club tour­na­ments in 2015, as Barcelona won five of them.

USA’S World Cup-win­ning mid­fielder Carli

Lloyd, 33, won the women’s world player of the year award.

She scored a hat-trick in the fi­nal against Ja­pan, in­clud­ing a sen­sa­tional strike from the half­way line, and earned the Golden Ball for best player in the tour­na­ment.

For­mer Ger­many striker Celia Sa­sic fin­ished se­cond de­spite re­tir­ing half­way through 2015 at the age of 27.

She was top scorer in the World Cup with six goals and won the Cham­pi­ons League with Frank­furt.

Ja­pan mid­fielder Aya Miyama, 30, cap­tained her coun­try to the World Cup fi­nal, where they lost to the USA. She was third.

None of the short­listed trio had won the award be­fore.

Lloyd said: “It has been a dream ever since I started with the na­tional team. Keep your dreams and just go af­ter them.”

Fifa/fifpro World XI

Real Madrid had as many play­ers as Barcelona - four - in the world team of the year de­spite not win­ning a tro­phy.

Bay­ern Mu­nich goal­keeper Manuel Neuer was the Bun­desliga’s only rep­re­sen­ta­tive, while Ju­ven­tus mid­fielder Paul Pogba and Paris St-ger­main’s Thi­ago Silva rep­re­sented Serie A and Ligue 1 re­spec­tively.

The Premier League was the only one of Europe’s top five leagues not to have any­one in the team.

World coach of the year - men’s foot­ball

Barcelona coach Luis En­rique won the world coach of the year award af­ter lead­ing his side to five of the six tro­phies on of­fer in 2015, in­clud­ing the Cham­pi­ons League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

He beat Bay­ern Mu­nich boss Pep Guar- di­ola, who was se­cond, and Chile’s Copa Amer­ica-win­ning coach Jorge Sam­paoli to the award.

World coach of the year - women’s foot­ball

United States coach Jill El­lis was named women’s foot­ball world coach of the year af­ter lead­ing her coun­try to World Cup glory in the sum­mer.

Eng­land coach Mark Samp­son fin­ished third with 10.68 per­cent of the vote af­ter their third-place fin­ish in Canada. Se­cond was Ja­pan coach No­rio Sasaki, whose side beat Eng­land in the semi-fi­nals, but lost to USA in the fi­nal.

“It is a true hon­our,” said El­lis. “To Fifa, to our own fed­er­a­tion, thank you for your be­lief, your vi­sion and your in­vest­ment in women’s foot­ball.”

Puskas award - goal of the year

Atletico Goian­iense’s Wen­dell Lira won the goal of the year award for his over­head kick against Goiane­sia in Brazil’s Goiano state league.

Messi’s run from half­way and fin­ish in the Copa del Rey fi­nal against Ath­letic Bil­bao was se­cond, with Roma full-back Alessan­dro Florenzi’s 55-yard goal against Barca third.

Fair play award For­mer Leeds and South Africa cap­tain Lu­cas Radebe an­nounced the win­ner of this year’s fair play award. That went to ev­ery foot­ball club and or­gan­i­sa­tion sup­port­ing refugees. How does vot­ing work?

Jour­nal­ists, na­tional team coaches and cap­tains vote for their top three in all cat­e­gories, apart from the Puskas and fair play ones.

They se­lect their first, se­cond and third choice for each award, with five, three and one points given to each place re­spec­tively.

The win­ner is the per­son with the most points. In the event of a tie, it goes to the player or coach with the most first places.

The Puskas award, for the “most beau­ti­ful goal” of 2015, is voted for by users of the Fifa and France Foot­ball web­sites.

LIONEL Messi in ac­tion for FC Barcelona.

LIONEL Messi holds the World Player of the Year award dur­ing the FIFA Bal­lon d'or 2015 cer­e­mony in Zurich, Switzer­land on Mon­day.

2015 FIFA FIFPRO World XI as­sem­bles on stage.

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