Barcelona, June 23.- The Argentine Leo Messi turns 33 today, St. John’s Day, and he does so having played his entire professional career in one club: Barça.
At this age, Maradona showed clear signs in Sevilla that he was no longer what he had been and was about to be suspended for doping a second time. At that same age, Pelé faced the last year at Santos, the club of his entire life, before launching into the adventure of the New York Cosmos.
And Cruyff had already been in the United States for two years after his time at Barça and had little left to sign for Levante in the Second Division.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the only contemporary player of Messi who has been able to approach his benefits during his reign, at 33 he decided to leave Real Madrid and try his luck at Juventus.
It does not seem that Messi, who recently renewed for one more season with Barça, intends to emulate the steps of any of them.
The emblem of Barça reaches this age fulfilling the claim of being a player of a single club. Yesterday against Athletic Bilbao he played his official game number 722 with the Catalan team, a figure very close to Xavi Hernández’s 767, who is currently still the player who has worn the Barça shirt the most times.
Messi took advantage of the game against Bilbao to give the assistance of the goal that gave Quique Setien the victory, but he could not score his 700th official goal adding the ones achieved with Barça (629) and with the Argentine team (70).
This birthday is the first that the Argentine is being able to celebrate together with his Barça teammates thanks to the delay in the completion of LaLiga due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year Messi celebrated his birthday in Brazil the day after getting Argentina’s pass to the quarterfinals of the Copa América. And two years ago he was also with the team, this time in Russia on the brink of elimination from the World Cup after having scored just one point in the first two days of the group stage.
His happiest football anniversary was 2006, when the Argentine turned 19 years old. That June 24, Argentina faced Mexico in Leipzig in the World Cup round of 16 and the 90 minutes ended with a draw of one on the scoreboard.
In 84, Messi had entered the field of play replacing Saviola, thus making his debut in a round of 16 in his first World Cup, and in extra time Maxi Rodríguez put the Albiceleste in quarters thanks to an unstoppable volley with the end of a play in the one that participated the future six times best player in the world.
Since then, a long time has passed. Enough for Messi to have raised four Champions and 10 Leagues with Barça. His pending account is the absolute Argentine team, with which he has not been able to win any title despite having played three finals (one in the World Cup and three in the Copa América).
But Messi’s history as a player is still far from ending.