BARCELONA – Lionel Messi, from Montjuïc to Getafe, celebrates 16 years of career in Barcelona’s first team this Friday, always tied to October 16, 2004 when Frank Rijkaard gave him the alternative in a derby against Espanyol in which he started to write an eternal sports career.
Half of his life and completing his 17th season with the Barça team, a milestone that only Carles Rexach (1964-1981, although with one season on loan) and Xavi Hernández (1998-2015) reached before. Leo (734 games) has long passed Rexach (449) and is heading towards the 767 added by Xavi, whom, however, he already surpassed in terms of titles, reaching 34 at the beginning of this course.
Nobody knows the future plans that the Argentine star has. Eight and a half months after the end of the contract and when the echoes of the scandal that caused his intention to leave the club after the Lisbon disaster (which he did not do due to the firmness of Bartomeu demanding the 700 million of his termination clause still resonate, Messi He has taken the extra-sports controversy out of the picture to focus again on the grass, leading Ronald Koeman’s project while time passes … While waiting for the month of January, when, surely, the case will return to the fore.
Until then, and both after and before, the figure of ’10’ is drawn and understood in Barcelona. Called, whether or not he is still at the club next season, to become the player with the most appearances in Barça’s history (he has 33 games left to catch up with Xavi), Messi represents the most triumphant era of the club’s 121 years. Since his debut in the 2004-05 season only in two (2007-08 and 2019-20) he closed the course without taking a title to the Camp Nou showcases, adding to those 34 championships an infinity of individual trophies that have made him, way of the 34 years, in the best footballer of the history.
Today Messi keeps a scrupulous silence, after the storm, keeping all Barcelona fans in suspense, waiting to know if in the summer of 2021 he will maintain his loyalty to the club that welcomed him as a child and even become its greatest exponent.
The doubt that today flies over the Camp Nou never existed around the captain. When 16 years have passed since that first appearance against Espanyol, there are those who understand each game as a countdown towards their farewell in June 2021 and who, still, trust that Leo will become one of the great cracks in history who began and they finished their sports career with the same shirt.