Lionel Messi has stated categorically he will never leave Barcelona for another European club, closing the door to a potential reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City or a move to a big-spending outfit such as Chelsea or Paris Saint-Germain. The Argentine also backed his teammate Neymar as a future Ballon d'Or winner, saying the Brazilian "will be what he wants to be".
Messi has been linked with a move to the Premier League in recent times following his problems with the Spanish tax authorities, with Chelsea last year tipped as a potential destination due to his close relationship with Cesc Fabregas. Messi, however, stayed at Barcelona and led them to the treble, being consequently awarded his fifth Ballon d'Or.
But The Sun recently claimed Messi would make the move to England, swapping the Nou Camp for the Etihad Stadium alongside former boss Pep Guardiola. The report claimed the Spanish boss want to build his new Manchester City around Messi, with the Premier League giants ready to offering him a staggering £800,000-a-week deal ($1.4bn) to convince him to make the move.
But Messi has now committed his European future to Barcelona during an interview with France Football, claiming he will only leave the Catalan giants to play in his homeland.
"I have always said that Barcelona is my home and I want to retire here, with regards to my career in Europe. I am never going to play for another European club, but I would like to try Argentine football. I am sure what I want and what I want is to stay at Barça," he said.
Messi added that he feels he has now regained his top form following two seasons hit by injury. Nevertheless, he insisted that he values team trophies over Ballon d'Ors, adding that he expects his teammate Neymar to claim a crown of his own in future.
"Each Ballon D'or has its own story. I don't think about how many more I can win. If I win another one, great, but I'm not worried about if that happens of not. I've never been obsessed with the Ballon d'Or. The most important thing is the team trophies and I want to win all of them," he said.
"I feel much better than I did in the last two years. In 2013 and 2014 I had various injuries and I wasn't at full power. Now I feel back on top. I think I've found the level I was showing three or four years ago."
While speaking about Neymar he added: "I think that Neymar will win the Ballon d'Or one day because he has all the necessary qualities and he's a player with class. He will be what he wants to be. He is quick, technically good and is good one-on-one – he has it all."