Buenos Aires (AFP) – Barcelona’s shock announcement on Thursday that superstar Lionel Messi would be leaving the club is a “bombshell” of global proportions, according to Argentine media.
Less than a month after the six-time Ballon d’Or winner inspired his country to end their 27-year wait for a major international title in a 1-0 Copa America final victory over arch rivals Brazil, Messi’s homeland was left stupefied.
“It is the end of a unique and undoubtedly unmatchable legend,” wrote sports newspaper Ole.
“One of the most beautiful stories in world football is ending: the day we never imagined has finally arrived,” added Ole in a tweet.
Newspaper La Nacion said this “unexpected turn” of events was “a bombshell that has shaken world football.”
Television channel TyCSports said the news was “difficult to believe” in a tweet, adding that it was “the end of an era that has forever marked the history of football.”
Just as the football world began immediately to speculate on which moneybags club Messi would end up at next, teams in Argentina cheekily allowed themselves to dream, even though the economic reality in the recession-hit South American country would make a homecoming an even more astonishing event.
The hashtag “Welcome Leo” started trending on Twitter as mock up pictures of Messi wearing the jerseys of domestic giants Boca Juniors, River Plate, Newell’s Old Boys and San Lorenzo appeared, as well as more modest outfits such as Sacachispas FC.
The local press, though, took an instant interest in where Messi, 34, will really end up next.
“Global shock …. will Paris Saint-Germain be his new club,” said Clarin, speculating that the French Ligue 1 club was “the main candidate to add him to their galacticos” including Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
“Messi is in his prime and with his sights set on the Qatar World Cup, that’s why he is continuing to bet on European football,” added the newspaper, which pointed out he has been courted by the Qatari owned PSG for many years.
Social media was also awash with memes, including several featuring Messi’s Argentine countryman Sergio Aguero, who last month joined Barcelona on a free transfer from Manchester City saying he was looking forward to playing with his friend.
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