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Messi not thinking about long-term future  | The Express Tribune

Messi not thinking about long-term future | The Express Tribune

Tooba Shakir 7 months ago 0 0

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PARIS:

Lionel Messi said Monday he was not thinking about his long-term future as he sought to enjoy winning the eighth Ballon d’Or of his storied career.

Messi, 36, succeeded Karim Benzema as winner of the prize, awarded on the back of his performances last season, when he inspired Argentina to glory at the World Cup in Qatar.

“The last one I won was also thanks to what we achieved with the Argentine national team in the Copa America (in 2021), but this one is much more special because it comes after we won the World Cup,” Messi told various media including AFP after collecting his award at a ceremony in Paris.

“That is the trophy everyone wants to win the most, and it was a dream come true for me, my teammates and my country.”

He dragged Argentina to a victory in Qatar that crowned his remarkable career and allowed him to see off stiff competition for the Ballon d’Or from Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland in particular.

Haaland came second in the final voting, with Mbappe third and Kevin De Bruyne .0i.2n fourth place.

Former Barcelona superstar Messi scored seven times at the World Cup and was named the tournament’s best player after Argentina beat France on penalties in the final in Doha.

Yet Messi, who won his first Ballon d’Or in 2009, also had an underwhelming final season at Paris Saint-Germain, before leaving to play for Inter Miami in Major League Soccer.

He played down suggestions he could come back for another Ballon d’Or, possibly after the next World Cup in 2026, when he will be 39.

“I am not thinking about the long-term future. I am just enjoying the day to day at the moment,” he said.

“We have a Copa America coming up in the United States, where I am now, in which we are the holders, so I am looking forward to coming into that in good shape and then just see how I am getting on from there.”

Messi admitted on his return to the French capital that his two-year stint at PSG had not turned out the way he imagined upon signing from Barcelona in 2021.

“Things didn’t turn out as I hoped but I enjoyed the city a lot, and my kids liked it a lot and found it hard to leave,” he said.

“It is a spectacular city and I was lucky to live here. Football-wise it did not go the way I hoped but I prefer to remember the many good things.”

Bellingham eyes Euro 2024 glory

Real Madrid and England star Jude Bellingham said he was targeting Euro 2024 glory with England after winning the Kopa Trophy for the best player of last season aged under 21 at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris on Monday.

The 20-year-old has enjoyed a sensational start to his Real career, a brace in Saturday’s 2-1 Clasico win over Barcelona taking him to 13 goals in his first 13 games for the Spanish giants.

But the Kopa Trophy rewards his performances last season. In his final campaign with Borussia Dortmund, Bellingham scored 14 times in 42 games as they came second in the Bundesliga. He also helped England reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar.

“I am really grateful to Dortmund for the opportunities they gave me over the years and especially last year, to be a leading player and someone who helped the team to win games,” Bellingham told AFP and other media after collecting his prize.

“I think I took that responsibility on quite well and all said I think I had a good year so I am very happy.”

He succeeds Barcelona and Spain midfielder Gavi as the winner of the trophy named after former Real Madrid and France star Raymond Kopa.

Kylian Mbappe and Matthijs de Ligt are also former winners of the award, which is voted for by previous winners of the men’s Ballon d’Or.

Bellingham also ranked 18th in the voting for this year’s Ballon d’Or, recognised as the most prestigious individual prize in football.

Now settled in Spain, Bellingham is hoping for the kind of success with club and country this season that would make him a genuine contender to win the Ballon d’Or next year.

“The aim is to try to win everything with England and with Madrid,” he said of his objectives for the months ahead.

“It is important that I try to give everything I have got at the moment towards that.”

Of England’s prospects at the upcoming European Championship in Germany, he added: “I am definitely confident, we are one of the favourites going into the tournament now and it is important that we quit the talking and finally perform in front of our fans.” 



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