Lionel Messi, APRIL 21, 2018. Photo by Mutsu Kawamori/ Aflo Co. Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

To live without Messi

In the eighties, the murder of Bambi's mother traumatized a whole generation, most of its members embraced ecology as grownups. What will happen to the youth of today when Messi hangs up his boots?

Just like every summer, Barcelona is facing the new football season with renewed hopes. In August, the names’ quiz has lasted for a couple of months in the sports press (if we ended up signing up to all the names that came out, we could fill the North stand), and it is a time of euphoria, to move on to the disenchantment of last season and to dream that this year, this year we will achieve the triplet. At Can Barça, preseason is also the time to check if the pyrotechnics we have paid at a gold price will work or will be wet, inefficient gunpowder, and if the new strikers will be able to get along with Lionel Messi, Our Lord.

Journalist Jordi Puntí, in his book Todo Messi, raises an interesting hypothesis: he assures that Barça’s player #10 is like an Aztec God who, in order to work and guarantee the humans a good harvest, asks for the head of a striker. Having a look at the past, we can see that the theory is confirmed, taking into account the cases of Eto’o (who left on 2009), Ibrahimovic (2010), Bojan (2011), David Villa (2013), Alexis Sánchez (2014), Pedro (2015) and Munir (2017) among the list of the sacrificed.

Todo Messi, Puntí’s book, which is subtitled “style exercises”, is the literary confirmation that Messi is much more than a player; an obviousness that has been repeated many times, but that deserved that someone made a stop and thought about it in depth. According to the author [Jordi Puntí] of Maletas perdidas, Messi would be closer to creators of dreams like Walt Disney or the architect Frank Gehry, that of Goikoetxea or Begiristain, so to speak.

The moment he realized it, Puntí decided to pay tribute to the star-artist, and began to look at Messi from different perspectives, concluding that the figure of Messi is an indestructible reality, and that the #10 admits all kinds of metaphors and linguistic approaches. In front of those who say that the Argentinean «exhausts all adjectives», Puntí claims that the opposite is true, since Messi has forced to expand language like few. Therefore, on the Internet, you can easily find information about “the Messi of the pizzas” (in Sabadell) or “the Messi of the scissors” (this last one referred to a Russian hairdresser that was drawing it in the neck).

As it happens with all drugs, the withdrawal symptoms after Messi will be dangerous. On the very day that the culés [Barça supporters] stop counting the years with the initials BC and AD, and start doing it with BM and AM (before and after Messi,) the comedown will take place

Puntí does all kinds of dribbling and filigrees when approaching the myth of the Argentine, from analyzing his debut in the first team of Barça, with 16 years, 4 months and 23 days, to reviewing the videos of a five year old Messi, that already had the ball stuck to the feet, just like nowadays. And we can also read the beloved confession of the writer, who, as a teenager, called Maradona’s house (at that time the phone number was listed). Diego Armando did not pick up the phone, but a 15-year-old Puntí could talk to the girlfriend of the myth and convey her spirits after a defeat.

As it happens with all drugs, the withdrawal symptoms after Messi will be dangerous. On the very day that the culés [Barça supporters] stop counting the years with the initials BC and AD, and start doing it with BM and AM (before and after Messi), the comedown will take place. The veteran Barcelona supporters will not suffer much: going back to the motto “neither this year” will make it bearable, but for the young ones who have discovered soccer with Messi (and Puntí remembers that they have also grown up with Harry Potter, and therefore are accustomed to both magic and happy endings), for this generation accustomed to titles and geniuses, returning to those decades of mediocrity can be difficult to overcome.

In the eighties, the murder of Bambi’s mother traumatized a whole generation, most of its members embraced ecology as grownups. What will happen to the youth of today when Messi hangs up his boots?