Nobody believed it at first. Even when Joan Laporta appeared in front of the Spanish media to confirm what everybody already knew, the world seemed to be waiting for the catch. It would be a nod and a wink from Laporta, perhaps, or some ambiguity that let us all know this was just more brinkmanship.
But it never came. Neither Javier Tebas nor La Liga’s financial fair play regulations are for turning and the Lionel Messi era at Barcelona seems over.
That still seems impossible. It probably will for many months to come, even if Messi is scoring goals in another club’s colours by then. That will be like one of those disjointed dreams in which you hear yourself talking a foreign language that you don’t know in real life or living in a house that isn’t yours.
And sad, because Messi has occupied such an unusual place.
He’s been everyone’s player, really. If he moves to Paris Saint-Germain, he’ll be framed by their agenda. If he goes to Manchester City, he’ll take up theirs. But at Barcelona it was different.
Maybe it was the stories of his beginning — of Carles Rexach and the napkin contract, of the tiny boy who was shy to the point of being practically mute. Whatever it was, he became of the sport, rather than the objectives which lie behind it.
It won’t be the same now. His gravity has changed.
Barcelona’s full symphony was something, wasn’t it?
The way those blue and red colours would shimmer and how the players would make the ball dance. It was footballing Camelot. To watch was
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