Characteristically, football is such a hot topic in Europe that sports lovers are continually exposed to not just the news on the game of football in different leagues, but also to incessant rumours about players linked to inter-club transfers. The football websites and newspapers are full of juicy stories on topics that include players, clubs, rumour sources and price tags assigned. The transfer scenario is about as dynamic as thrills experienced in a super-charged 90-minute game between top teams, who fight out for proving their superiority, in front of their yelling supporters, in full-capacity football stadiums.

There is great present-day footballer, however, who stands out like a rock, when it comes to transfer talks. He has literally been wedded to just the one European club ever since he joined them. And he is proud of his club just as his fans are proud of him in Barcelona. This guy is the amazing Argentinian Lionel Messi. Talented footballers are highly sought after but Messi became

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

a great footballer after joining FC Barcelona! Anyone, who roamed around Barcelona’s streets in the summer of 2010, a few months ahead of the FIFA World Cup, will tell you that people in this Spanish city had more love for the Argentinian Messi than Spain’s national team, which eventually won 2010 World Cup for them. So high was the Messi rage those days that he personified football in all its forms and World Cup held less importance than Messi and Barca.

There is a very strong reason for Lionel Messi’s emotional bond with FC Barcelona. As a 5 year-old, he began playing for a local club called Grandoli and at age 8, shifted to another club, Newells Old Boys in Rosario. Even at that tender age, Messi came to be known as a Machine of 87, since 1987 was Messi’s year of birth. With Messi playing for them, the club lost only one match in 4 years. Misfortune struck the Messi family, when 11-year old Lionel was suddenly diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Treatment of such a health condition was expensive at $ 900 per month and the Messi family couldn’t afford to foot the bills. Fortunately, Barca’s Sports Director, Carles Rexach, had heard about Messi’s football genius through his relatives. In a very strange football contract, written on paper-napkin, Rexach offered to pay for Messi’s medical expenses on the condition that he would move to Spain and play for FC Barcelona. In the absence of any other viable options, Lionel’s father agreed and after his treatment, Messi joined Barca’s Youth Academy.

Messi played for Barca’s Infantil B and graduated to the Cadete B & A teams from 2000 to 2003. He made his debut for FC Barcelona in November 2003 at age 16 in a friendly match against Porto and his league debut came about in October 2004 against RCD Espanvol. In 2005-06 football season; Messi scored 6 goals in 17 league matches and became Argentina’s youngest player ever, to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Messi kept improving his game as time went by and after a creditable performance in 2007 Copa America, Messi represented Argentina in 2008 Beijing Olympics. He scored his first goal in a 2-1 victory against Ivory Coast and repeated this performance against Netherlands. Argentina beat Brazil 3-0 for a place in Olympic final, where Messi assisted team-mate Di María for the lone gold medal goal against Nigeria.

In 2010 FIFA World Cup, Messi starred in his country’s 4-1 victory against Korea by providing assists for all the goals scored. He was named captain against Greece and Argentina won that game 2-0. In the round of 16, he assisted Carlos Tevez in the 3-1 win against Mexico but the World Cup ended for Messi with Argentina’s 4–0 defeat by Germany in quarterfinals.

Messi was appointed Argentina’s captain in August 2011 and scored his first hat-trick in a friendly against Switzerland in February 2012. His second international hat-trick came three months later in another friendly with Brazil, a game, which Argentina won 4-3. In September 2012, Messi starred in a 3-1 win over Paraguay in a World Cup qualifying game, where he also scored his 28th goal for Argentina. Messi’s fine performance in the World Cup qualifying games ensured that Argentina would play the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Very recently, the rumour mill was rife with stories of Messi leaving Barca and signing for Chelsea. The buy-out was said to involve an astonishing £210million. It was allegedly a move by Sports-gear major Adidas, who offered to pay half the total buy-out sum. Despite Messi’s emotional link with Barca, the price tag was too attractive for Barca and Messi. But perpetrators of the rumour also say that the deal fizzled out, since Chelsea found it too difficult to find £105m. Bayern Munich was another team capable of generating funds to buy Messi and move him to Germany with support from Adidas. This would have been a great boost to Bayern and Bundesliga but Messi and Barca denied any such move.