Sunday, May 26, 2024

SPORTS | 13-08-2021 23:03

Messi’s hunger for more means star is sure to shine in City of Lights

Argentina's Copa América hero has chosen a PSG side which will give him every tool necessary to keep fighting for the biggest honours.

The past week has been a momentous one in football history, as one of Santa Fe Province's favourite sons, famed for his goals at Barcelona, was suddenly forced to look for alternative employment. 

But that is enough on Juan Antonio Pizzi's abrupt exit from Racing Club; you may also have heard that one Lionel Messi has made a fresh start after more than two decades of glittering success at Camp Nou.

Argentina's Copa América hero, who just 10 days ago looked to stick it out at Barcelona, will now line up for Qatari-backed French titans Paris Saint-Germain. 

Granted, Messi moving to the richest team on earth, which could buy and sell not just every player in Argentina's Liga Profesional but likely most of the clubs too, is hardly a fairytale story, but to judge from the fervent reaction to the news in Paris and across the world this blockbuster transfer is set to go down as one for the ages.

"The vision of the club is in line with my ambitions," Messi said during his presentation on Wednesday, accompanied by PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi. 

"I know how talented the players and staff are here. I am determined to build, alongside them, something great for the club and for the fans.

"I can't wait to get out onto the pitch at the Parc des Princes."

There are several interpretations possible here. Football's hopeless romantics (who can usually count this writer among their number) might gripe over the cold mathematics which seem to have motivated this transfer, maintaining Messi's status as one of the game's best paid as well as best performers.

Why not choose to follow Diego Maradona's footsteps at Napoli, they may cry, or even better take advantage of that jobless status and make a triumphant, emotional return to Newell's Old Boys, who heaven knows could use some of his magic after years of under-achieving.

Others, engaged as they are in the battle for souls, point the finger at the Qatar Investment Authority and their state-sponsored project in Paris, accusing Messi of being complicit in ruining football as we know it – as if that particular vessel had not already left port for the high seas some time ago.

Each side has a valid argument in part, but that does not constitute the full story. While acknowledging the alarming state of the game even at its highest levels – the only reason Barcelona have not kept hold of their gem, after all, is that the elaborate house of cards made up of crippling debts, ridiculous salary commitments and a level of mismanagement that would make even your average Liga Profesional president blush finally collapsed in the past few weeks, leaving them practically insolvent – there is one great positive. 

At 34, having won almost everything the game has to offer, Messi will continue to delight us on a regular basis, and he has chosen a side which will give him every tool necessary to keep fighting for the biggest honours. His competitive spirit has not been dimmed or sated by success; if anything, it has only grown over the years.

PSG supporters, meanwhile, embarked on a week-long bacchanalia, beginning when the first reports of Leo's arrival began to arrive in the press, feting their new player with an intensity rarely if ever seen before. 

The reason is self-explanatory. Just two teams, Barcelona and Argentina, have to date held the privilege of hosting the little No. 10's talents. For fans across the world, merely seeing him once in the flesh from the stands represents the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. 

Now Parc des Princes will have that privilege; and while it might take the rest of us some getting used to, there can be little doubt that the star will further illuminate the City of Lights in the same manner as he has electrified stadiums across the world since bursting onto the stage to change football forever.


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Dan Edwards

Dan Edwards


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