Football fans from all over the globe were shocked when Leo Messi first expressed the desire to leave Barcelona in August 2020. We have always identified the Argentinean superstar with the Catalan giants, and we’ve done so for a reason. Nobody could have imagined Messi at any other team, especially not a European side, at this point of his career when he is still clearly capable of producing top-notch performances at the highest level.
However, the unthinkable happened and Lionel Messi left Barcelona in August 2021. Just five days after the club announced Messi’s departure, the Argentinean star joined his former teammate Neymar and his countryman Angel Di Maria at Paris Saint-Germain.
We won’t deal much about PSG’s amazing prospects with arguably the best attacking trident in the history of the game, featuring Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe. Instead, we will remind ourselves of Messi’s early dance at Barcelona where he will always be remembered as a club legend and one of the greatest athletes to have ever played this game.
Why Lionel Messi is one of the greats?
You can ask football fans from all across the planet about the best football player in the history of the game and the most frequent answer you’d get would be Lionel Messi. We by no means want to discuss arguments on this subject because it is generally very hard to compare the likes of Pele or Maradona to our generation stars, even for top football experts at popular sports sites like bettingtipsforyou.
To avoid potential arguments, we will describe Leo as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. At least, no one can deny this. Messi has some incredible numbers to back him up against any other player in the world.
He has won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award record six times. During his spectacular reign at Barcelona, Leo has won as many as 35 trophies. No other player has won more in the team’s history. A plethora of silverwares involves ten Spanish League, seven Spanish Cup, and four Champions League titles.
Among bountiful records, Messi holds the one for most goals in La Liga. He bagged 474 in the top flight of Spanish football before leaving Barcelona in 2021. Someone who does not watch football might assume that he was selfish just by looking at this number. However, Lionel Messi also holds a record for the most assists in La Liga (192). During his reign at Barcelona, he has scored record 36 hat-tricks in La Liga and record 8 hat-tricks in the UEFA Champions League.
We could go on and on just talking about Leo’s numbers, but that’s not the main theme of this article. Messi’s legacy in Barcelona is much greater than these numbers. This is why we will stop here and go back in time to remind ourselves and Blaugrana fans (in particular) of the good old times when the best player in the team’s history first arrived in Catalunya.
When did Messi arrive in Barcelona?
As you all know, Lionel Messi spent his entire club career at Barcelona, all up until August 2021. Exactly 20 years ago, he first arrived in Barcelona as a 13-year-old kid. After spending a year at the team’s famous youth Academy (La Masia), Messi made his way to the Royal Spanish Football Federation. He then already began to break records by scoring 36 goals in 30 appearances for the team’s Cadetes A. Interestingly, he was offered a move to Arsenal after such a successful season but chose to remain in Catalunya unlike his fellow teammates Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique who departed to England.
When did Messi make his first-team debut?
During the following season (2003-04), Messi broke the record by making debuts for dive distinct youth Barcelona teams in just a single campaign. He quickly progressed through the ranks eventually making his first-team debut on Nov ember 16th 2003. He came on from the bench to play the final 15 minutes of a friendly against Porto (then led by Jose Mourinho).
He quickly gained attention from everyone at the club, including the world’s best player at that point, Ronaldinho. The Brazilian magician immediately recognized Leo’s talent and soon befriended him.
Next year, Lionel Messi made his debut in an official match for Barcelona. He came on from the bench in the 82nd minute of the clash against local rivals Espanyol in the La Liga tie on October 16th, 2004. His maiden senior goal came on May 1st, 2005 when he nicely converted a Ronaldinho assist to become the youngest ever goalscorer for the team.
Ronaldinho – Samuel Eto’o – Lionel Messi
Messi became a first-team regular at the start of the 2005/06 season. He wore No 19 back then and quickly formed a lethal attacking trio with the likes of Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o. He scored his first Champions League goals in November 2005 against Panathinaikos (a 5-0 win), three weeks before making his debut in El Clasicos against fierce enemies Real Madrid. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury ruled Leo out of the Champions League final against Arsenal in Paris (Blaugrana managed to win the match without his help).
Next season, Messi already became one of the best players in the world, at the age of 19. He increased his popularity by replicating Maradona’s famous goal with a brilliant solo run in the Copa del Rey semifinal against Getafe.
Messi’s first treble with Barcelona & his first significant individual awards
In terms of club successes, Barcelona had back-to-back unsuccessful seasons. Lionel Messi suddenly became the main man in the team following the departures of Ronaldinho (declined in from) and coach Frank Rijkaard. He took Dinho’s No 10 and went on to score 38 goals in 51 outings while playing alongside Eto’o and Thierry Henry.
In that season (2008/09) Lionel Messi won his maiden Barcelona treble. Messi notched the second goal of the Champions League final victory over Manchester United (2-0) in Rome.
The second half of 2009 was equally successful for the Argentinean superstar as he went on to guide Blaugrana to the sextuple (six different club trophies in one year). His inaugural Ballon d’Or and FIFA Player of the Year awards came deservedly as a consequence. The rest is history.