MX23RW : Friday, August 6 04:34:28| >> :120:3699:3699:

Ernesto Valverde dismisses Lionel Messi retirement talk

The 32-year-old Argentina ace won his sixth Ballon d'Or crown this week.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has dismissed talk of Lionel Messi retiring any time soon.

Messi hinted he might be contemplating hanging up his boots in the near future by saying 'the moment of withdrawal is approaching' after collecting a sixth Ballon d'Or earlier this week.

However, Valverde does not see the record-breaking 32-year-old, who has scored 614 goals in 701 appearances for Barca and helped the club win 34 trophies since making his first-team debut in 2004, calling it a day in the near future.

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or a record six times
Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or a record six times (Francois Mori/AP)

The Barca boss, speaking ahead of Saturday's LaLiga visit of Real Mallorca, told a press conference: "It (what Messi said) seems something natural and normal.

"He's 32-years-old and when a player passes 30 he thinks more about the end of his career, but I don't think we need to read too much into this and his words don't mean he's going to leave football now or in the next three days."

Messi will parade the Ballon d'Or to fans at the Nou Camp before the clash with promoted Mallorca.

The Argentinian previously won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, leaving him one clear of Cristiano Ronaldo as the most decorated player in the history of the award.

"It's impressive because he has won them himself," added Valverde.

"I'm aware what it means to coach Messi, but at times you can't enjoy the everyday things all the time.  You appreciate things more with time.

"I'm aware that I've had the fortune to coach Leo. In the same way that older people talk about (Alfredo) Di Stefano, we can say that we've been in the era of Messi."

Mallorca's return to the top flight has been tough with just four wins from their first 15 games, leaving them just one place and one point above the relegation zone.

All of their 14 points so far have come at home and they now face the daunting prospect of trying to get something at the Nou Camp, where champions Barca have won 51 of their last 61 league matches while losing just once.

"They are a newly-promoted team who have problems away from home," said Valverde.

"They always have a positive attitude and will come to stand up to get something positive."

Barcelona were given a scare by basement side Leganes last month – the champions fighting back from a half-time deficit to win 2-1 – so Valverde is not taking Saturday's visitors lightly.

"We know that then comes the intensity," he said. "Tomorrow is a key game and we have to remember what we suffered in Leganes."

Mallorca may have the worst away record in LaLiga but at home they have beaten Real Madrid and Villarreal while also taking points off Athletic Bilbao this season, and coach Vicente Moreno hopes they can make things tough for the leaders too.

"You always cling to that little bit of light: that all the conditions will come together in order to get something positive from there," he said on his club's website.

"It's not a question of changing our style, we have to try and make sure that they aren't able to rely on their virtues – which is very difficult – and we can play to ours. Let's go with that motivation."

Regarding the prospect of facing Messi, Moreno joked: "When Messi has a bad day, he still scores three.  To say a formula that will give you a victory, there is none."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States29352791
Olympics flagRussian Olympic Committee16222058
Great BritainGreat Britain16181852
Today's Olympic highlights header

Friday's key events

· Great Britain's women aim to secure their place on the podium as they face India in the bronze medal match (2.30am)
· Netherlands - silver medallists five years ago - and Argentina battle for the gold medal in the women's final (11am)

· The women's gold medal will be decided as Australia and USA go head to head (3.30am)

· Lauren Price will be looking to add to Team GB's success in the ring when she takes on Nouchka Fontijn of Netherlands in the women's middleweight semi-final (6am)

· Tom Daley already has one Olympic gold to his name in Tokyo, and he begins his bid for second in the men's 10m platform. Teammate Noah Williams is also involved in the preliminary round (7am)

· Jason Kenny's reign as sprint king may be over, but Jack Carlin looked strong in his bid to succeed his compatriot. He takes on Harrie Lavreysen in his sprint semi-final (8.10am), with the final taking place later in the day (10.35am)
· The women's madison makes its Olympic debut at the velodrome as Team GB duo Katie Archibald and Laura Kenny look to add another medal to their collections (9.15am)

· Hosts Japan will look to get themselves on the podium as they face Mexico in the men's bronze medal match (10am)
· The women's champions will be crowned as both Sweden and Canada aim to win Olympic gold for the very first time (1pm)

· The men's 5000m final includes Great Britain's Andrew Butchart, but most eyes will be on Ugandan world record holder Joshua Cheptegei (1pm)
· Team GB's Jodie Williams will hope to get on the podium in the women's 400m final, but defending champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo is favourite for gold while Stephenie Ann McPherson should challenge and Allyson Felix is bidding to become the most decorated female track and field athlete of all time (1.35pm)
· Netherlands' Sifan Hassan takes on leg two of her ambitious attempt at a Tokyo treble in a women's 1500m final which also includes Great Britain's Laura Muir and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya (1.50pm)
· A star-studded women's 4x100m relay final will see a Team GB quartet including Dina Asher-Smith look to upset defending champions USA and favourites Jamaica, who boast Elaine Thompson-Herah as she goes for her third gold of the Games (2.30pm)
· Great Britain and Jamaica will also be going for gold in the men's 4x100m relay final, and their medal hopes have been boosted by USA's failure to qualify (2.50pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
1Athletic Bilbao00000000
2Atletico MadridAtletico00000000
5Celta Vigo00000000
14Rayo Vallecano00000000
15Real Betis00000000
16Real Madrid00000000
17Real Sociedad00000000

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