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Saturday, January 7, 2012
Messi: I never want to leave Barcelona

ESPNsoccernet staff

Lionel Messi says that he never wants to leave Barcelona and praised the impact that coach Pep Guardiola has had on his career.

Messi, 24, is in line to become FIFA Ballon d'Or winner for the third time in a row at the ceremony in Zurich on Monday and took time to pay tribute to the club that made him the player he is today.

"I'm at the best club in the world, no other team could fulfil me as much as Barcelona does; I hope to stay here until they get tired of me, which is hopefully never," he told Marca. "I grew up at La Masia and I am a man made at Barca.

"The coach knows the club better than any of us. He was a ball boy, player and now coach. He is very smart, knows what needs to be done at all times and how to treat each player. He is also an excellent motivator. I feel very comfortable with him."

The Argentina international has already been lauded as one of the greatest to have ever played the game, but insists that he does not measure himself against others.

"I am only 24 years old, I have just started. I have so much respect for people who have been great, such as [Alfredo] Di Stefano, Pele or [Diego] Maradona," he added. "I should be judged when I finish my career because I do not like talking about myself, and I do not plan goals like that."

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