Could Lionel Messi really return to his boyhood club, Newell’s Old Boys?
Fans of the Argentine club gathered on Thursday in the streets of Rosario – Messi’s home town – for a parade to bring their boy back home.
Since Messi handed in a transfer request at Barcelona this week, the football world has gone absolutely giddy with speculation. At the moment, Manchester City and Paris St-Germain look like the two front-runners for his signature. But could sentimentality or home sickness have some sway on his eventual decision?
Messi has been at Barcelona for almost his whole footballing life, a graduate of their La Masia academy, which he joined aged 13. Before all that though, his journey started out Newell’s Old Boys academy.
So, is this really going to happen? It’s probably unlikely, isn’t it?
But there is some historical precedent.
Jamie Ralph, head of the club’s English-speaking supporters’ club, told PA news that people need to understand that Newell’s have a bit of a track record for pulling off major shock signings. Most famously, they did manage to lure back another famous Argentine export – Diego Maradona.
“Maradona was at Sevilla in Spain – he was only 33, so he was the same age as Messi – and he came back and signed for Newell’s, which was unbelievable at the time. This was the year before the ’94 World Cup,” Ralph explained.
Club vice-president Cristian D’Amico told TyC Sports: “Maradona came and everyone believed it was impossible. What Newell’s fan doesn’t have the dream to see the greatest in our shirt?”
They also signed World Cup winner David Trezeguet in 2013 and ex-Liverpool man Maxi Rodriguez currently plays for them. Pedigree.
There’s a banner at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa that says “your dream is our dream” and some fans have got Messi’s name on their backs.
Ralph did admit that there was, “a bit of romanticism” going on among all of this. He said, “I do think Messi will play for Newell’s one day, but personally think it’s a little bit too soon.”
We wouldn’t hold our breath. But it would be a charming story, wouldn’t it?