Barcelona and Argentina midfielder, Lionel Messi on Monday, announced his retirement from international football following the loss of La Albiceleste to Chile in the 2016 Copa America Final. It was the 4th loss for Argentina, with Messi playing, in a major event. Now, the debates will start about his place in history and his legacy with Argentina.
First stop, Jekyll and Hyde. For the younger readers who may not understand what this means, Jekyll and Hyde refers to anyone with dual personalities one good and one bad, and this more or less covers the life of the Argentine superstar both on and off the pitch. Messi has “two personalities” and these two personas will feature prominently when his life and his career are being dissected in the next few months.
First, his performance for club and country would seem to point at two different players; one wildly successful while the other flirted with success. Messi won 4 UEFA Champions League, 8 La Liga, 4 Copa Del Rey, 3 UEFA Super Cup World Club Cup titles and 6 Spanish Super Cup trophies with Barcelona. At the Youth level, he led Argentina to victory at the 2005 World Youth Championship and the 2008 Olympics, but with the national team, he has come up short when it mattered most: Four finals, four losses. At the Copa America, Argentines suffered heartbreak at the 2007, 2015 and 2016 and were also second best to Germany at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
While Messi is revered on the football pitch because of his prowess, troubles off the pitch with tax authorities have him as defaulter. It is still not clear whether the Barcelona superstar will end up with jail time, a hefty fine or an acquittal in his case with Spanish tax authorities, but whichever way the case goes, the revelations about the shenanigans of his father – which Messi himself has denied knowledge of – will mean some will always see him as a tax criminal.
Who is Messi in the dressing room? Unconfirmed rumors have the little Argentine as a tyrant who runs the Barcelona dressing room with an iron fist: you either play by his rules or get frozen out. He denied influencing the hiring of Gerardo Tata Martino for Barcelona, but many didn’t believe.
So, how will Lionel Messi be remembered? Is he to be revered, a god in the same league as Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer? Or is he to be considered a dud, a club hero who couldn’t find enough charisma to lift a major title for his nation?