BARCELONA - Lionel Messi dreams of retiring at Barcelona, the club who trained him as a teenager and where he began his professional career in 2004, the Argentine World Player of the Year said on Monday.
Collecting his Golden Boot award for scoring a Europe-leading 50 league goals last season, Messi spoke of his gratitude to Barca for giving him the chance to realise his dream when they took him on at their youth academy as a scrawny 13-year-old in 2000.
Now 25, Messi has four years left on his contract and a buyout clause worth 250 million euros ($322.63 million) and club officials have said an extended and improved deal may be imminent.
"My dream is to finish my career at the club," Rosario-born Messi, who is poised to become a father for the first time, said at the ceremony in the Catalan capital.
"The most important thing is that I continue developing here and I would like to do that until the end," he added.
In line for an unprecedented fourth straight World Player award when the 2012 winner is announced in January, Messi took his senior career goals tally to 301 on Saturday when he scored twice in Barcelona's 5-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano.
He has netted 270 goals for his club and 31 for Argentina.