Our journey today takes us through the quite rich career of Lionel Messi, one of football’s greatest players ever. From his earliest steps on the football pitch in Argentina to his current exploits in the United States, we’re exploring the highs and not-so-many lows of a career that’s become synonymous with the pinnacle of footballing mastery.
To answer the question right away, Messi currently plays for the MLS side Inter Miami. A somewhat young franchise that looks to be a force to be reckoned with within the next couple of seasons.
Where it all began – Grandoli
As the story goes, little Leo, a native of Rosario, Argentina, found his first footballing love in Grandoli – a humble, community-based club, not so far away from his family home.
Barely old enough for kindergarten, five-year-old Messi’s induction into this team was masterminded by an unlikely character – his beloved grandmother, Celia Olivera Cuccittini.
Amidst concerns about Leo’s pint-sized physique and the rigors of playing with bigger, older kids, Celia’s assertion was a factor that, to some extent, even started off Messi’s career.
A bigger stage, a grander dream – Newell’s Old Boys
The next stop on Messi’s footballing journey was Rosario’s much-acclaimed Newell’s Old Boys. A four-year stint at Grandoli deemed him good enough for this move. Though details about Messi’s departure from Grandoli remain somewhat hazy, his family’s rumored fallout with club officials and the allure of a more professional setup make this move more understandable.
It’s worth noting that every single family member in the Messi household was a Newell’s Old Boys, also known as the Nuls, supporter. His uncles, aunts, and even his elder brothers had all pledged their footballing allegiance to this club.
The stars aligned, and Messi found himself playing for the ’87 “batch” of the Nuls, nicknamed ‘La Maquina del ’87’, or ‘The Machine of ’87’, an unbeatable force in Argentine ‘baby football’ for three glorious years.
Chasing the Horizon – Barcelona
However, an uphill battle was in the offing for young Messi. A diagnosis of Growth Hormone Deficiency threatened to derail his rising football career. Enter Barcelona, the Spanish giants with the means to finance Messi’s treatment and a world-class youth setup to boot.
The world-renowned La Masia became Messi’s new training ground at 13, and with that, a new chapter in the Messi saga began. Messi’s undeniable talent saw him ascend the ranks rapidly, debuting for Barcelona’s first team in 2003 against FC Porto. His career took flight, with Messi becoming Barcelona’s talismanic figure, making 778 appearances and netting 672 goals – both records that stand unrivaled to this day.
Parisian detour – PSG
The unthinkable happened in 2021. Lionel “Mr. Barcelona” Messi found himself at odds with his beloved club. Financial turbulence at Camp Nou brought a halt to contract negotiations, and Messi was suddenly a free agent.
But, such talent doesn’t remain untethered for long. French superclub, PSG, swooped in, signing Messi on a two-year contract. During his stint with the Parisians, Messi helped secure two consecutive Ligue 1 titles.
Across the pond – Inter Miami
Come June 2023, Messi did what he’d never done before – left European football. His new home? Inter Miami – a fresh face in the Major League Soccer landscape, co-owned by former footballer David Beckham. Messi’s signing was a significant coup for the young Florida-based club, marking an exciting new chapter in his already illustrious career.
Messi will without a doubt leave a long-lasting impact on the whole MLS – a league that is still trying to find its place on the world football map. Deciding not to join a Saudi side, Messi showed his will to make a difference and help create a top-tier environment in North American football.
Argentina over Spain and Italy
While Messi’s club football journey has spanned continents, his national allegiances have, as it’s the case with the largest percentage of football players, remained firmly with one nation – Argentina. Despite potential eligibility to play for Italy and Spain due to his heritage, Messi’s heart belonged to the Albicelestes.
His love for his homeland has been rewarded with numerous accolades, including an Olympic gold medal, a Copa America title, the distinction of being Argentina’s top goal scorer of all time, and of course, winning the World Cup in 2022.
So, there you have it. The epic journey of Lionel Messi – a name forever etched in the annals of football history. From the small local fields of Grandoli to the grandeur of Nou Camp and Parc des Princes, and now to the novel challenge in Miami, Messi’s journey is a story of relentless ambition, unwavering commitment, and phenomenal talent. As we watch Messi lace up his boots and step onto the pitch each week, we’re reminded of his lasting impact on the beautiful game. No matter where Messi goes, his legacy follows – and it continues to be a thrilling spectacle for us all.