Lionel Messi: A tribute and a long rant

Aditya Gaonkar
6 min readAug 7, 2021

When I originally opened this draft on July 12 2021, titled “Lionel Messi: A tribute”, it started like this:

I always thought that when Messi retired from international football, this image would be the defining moment of his baggage filled career with Argentina:

THAT iconic pic of Messi. So close, yet so, so, far.

On July 10 2021, it became this, basically eliminating all that baggage:

Messi lifting Copa America 2021 as Argentina’s captain

What a truly insane ride for Messi and his senior teammates like Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi. This isn’t just a story of close misses, but a story of how a toxic AFA situation and the sheer weight of expectations made things borderline unmanageable for them.

And then, this article was in limbo as I couldn’t get back to it. But boy, did things get shaken up, rather unexpectedly and for the worst possible result.

Most of this summer 2021 transfer window has been spent under the assumption that Messi would sign a new contract with F.C. Barcelona. Heck, even Fabrizio Romano — pretty much the gold standard of the finality of big transfer rumors had stated that both parties have reached a verbal agreement and that no other clubs are in any contention of signing Messi. But then, on August 5, the footballing world had it’s equivalent of an earthquake of magnitude 10.0 + a supervolcano + global tsunamis + multiple asteroid hits as Barcelona officially announced that Messi couldn’t be signed despite both parties’ intention due to financial and regulatory issues.

What do I make of this? I’m baffled and devastated. Yes, I became a semi retired fan in the aftermath of the Anfield CL disaster. During Bartomeu’s absolutely disastrous presidency I had repeatedly wished that Messi leaves the club for his own good, the club’s good and destroys Bartomeu’s regime. But when Laporta was elected as president again, I held on to a sliver of hope that Messi will find reason to stay given Laporta’s track record and it indeed looked like he would end up signing a new contract. And added to the fact that Messi basically eliminated his pain of not winning a major title for Argentina, one could find reasons for optimism to see a fresh and energized Messi playing for Barcelona with a renewed vigour. Alas, it was a hope too good to become true by the looks of it as Bartomeu’s destruction of the club exceeded our worst nightmares:

One sample of the forest fire Bartomeu created

Does Laporta deserve any blame? Maybe his obstinacy to still stick with the Super League project and opposition to the CVC money in La Liga are sticky points: until we get an even better picture of the club’s finances and the CVC contract. But beyond those, he is blameless to me (except for maybe saying Tranquilo about Messi’s renewal and deceiving everyone?). He left the club in perfectly good heath financially and sporting project wise, only for Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu to torch it all out of their spite for Laporta — I’ll elaborate a bit on this at the end. And Jan walked into a forest fire this time without knowing so.

I sincerely hope that Rosell and Bartomeu will rot in hell or worse for doing this to the club I love. I hope the clowns in the Catalan sports media who worshiped Barto and covered for him even when we should have clearly realized that the club was hitting the wrong route in 2017 during the Neymar saga will see their club hit lows not even seen during the turn of the millennium, even if it means Laporta’s presidency gets torpedoed, the club gets relegated etc (my hate for them probably exceeds my love for the club). And I hope that the deadwood in the squad who weren’t ready to take a massive cut in their bloated salaries will realize the magnitude of what they’ve done (I prefer not to speak. If I speak, I am in big trouble: Jose Mourinho).

Now that I’m done ranting, let me come back to the man of the moment.

Dear Leo, I know that you’ll never read this post. Afterall you can barely speak English! 😄But thank you for everything you gave to this club and to me personally. It was an honour to see your exploits on screen and once in person:

FC Barcelona Juventus friendly in July 2017 in Metlife stadium, New Jersey, USA which I attended live. Messi and (I guess) Aleix Vidal photographed by me from high above in the stadium

I don’t really think any Barca fan can ever put in words everything that Messi means to the club. The memories, baggage, feelings are beyond words, probably unrivaled in footballing history. There probably have only ever been a few more players so synonymous with a club as Messi has been with Barca. In an age where footballers will change clubs for either money or titles or challenges, Messi could very well end up being the last of his kind. I indeed would have been happy for him if he had left when Lord Bartomeu was president. Indeed I would have cheered him on. But this, when he finally had again gotten a good, caring president, fulfilled his wish for Argentina and had even agreed to a massive wage reduction is a cruel heartbreak for him, the club and the entire Barcelona fanbase.

I’ll never ever forget this outrageous goal Messi pulled off in the home of our eternal rivals in the semifinal of the biggest club competition:

Or this performance against Madrid in the famous 5–0 match during 2010 playing in his eternally famous false 9 role, where he didn’t score a goal but showed just how good he is and how he transcended mere statistics:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9EaP96QsAA

(Link embedding is unavailable, but hopefully clicking the link works).

Or again going back to the Bernabeu when he pulled off this ice cold celebration after scoring the winner in the dying moments:

I don’t think I can ever fully cover the amount of moments of sheer joy he’s given me. And I’ll never even attempt to. He is someone who’s transcended trophies, goals, assists and other statistics, making them meaningless. He stuck with the club for years, especially in the second half of the 2010s even when the sporting project was a mess out of a sense of sheer loyalty, even when I was cursing him for this obstinacy.

In the end, maybe Johan Cruyff puts it best:

Thank you for everything Messi.

PS — about Laporta and Rosell-Bartomeu. When Laporta became president in 2003, Rosell was part of that board. However both fell out quickly and Rosell and Bartomeu started working to undermine Laporta. Another sticking point was Cruyff’s support for Laporta and Laporta being a staunch disciple of the club’s most influential figure (Messi is the greatest player ever, but I’m sure even he would admit that Cruyff’s influence on the club is something else). When Rosell came to power in 2010, he started working to undo everything Laporta had done. By 2020, their dream was indeed complete LOL. They torched everything that was perfect and working, just out of spite. More of this mess is covered here — https://lucasammr.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/from-throne-to-gutter/amp/.

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Aditya Gaonkar

IC Design Engineer. Retired FC Barcelona fan. Interested in physics, mathematics, philosophy, memes, epic fantasy. IIT Madras and Columbia University alum.