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The Catalans' sporting director was full of praise for the Fifa Ballon d'Or winner, and stressed people will respect the attacker even more after he hangs up his boots

Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta believes people will only fully appreciate the achievements of Lionel Messi once he has ended his playing career.

The 24-year-old attacker was awarded the Fifa Ballon d'Or for the third time in succession on Monday to follow in the footsteps of France legend Michel Platini, and Zubizarreta has nothing but praise for Messi.

"So much has been said about Leo and when we look back on his career in the future we'll realise just what he's achieved," Zubizarreta told Barcelona's website.

"Players make the stories while we are watching and enjoying them and it's when they have finished that they become legends.

"If you look at his stats right now, when he's still only 24, he already has a full career."

Despite his relatively young age, Messi is already one of the most successful club footballers in history with five La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues, and two Club World Cups among other titles in his trophy cabinet.

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