He would have been part of one of the great dynasties in international football history.
He might even have discovered the sense of family that he has always craved.
It was a decision forced by circumstances, and even so, how many 13-year-olds are really in a position to make an informed choice on something like that?
His club Newell’s Old Boys could no longer afford to pay for his expensive growth hormone treatment; Barcelona could, and so to Europe he went.
Not in a cramped corridor at the Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with an unwanted runners-up medal in his wash bag.
he best way of understanding Messi’s career and his relationships is through the concept of family.
And so it was always a relationship contingent on results: as Messi inspired Argentina to the World Cup Final two years ago, the fans sang his name, worshipped him as a saviour.
When Argentina failed, Messi was more often than not lumped with the blame.
hen he got to Barcelona’s academy, his strong Argentinian accent immediately marked him as an outsider in a dressing room full of native Catalans. So little attention was paid to his early development that when the Argentinian Football Association first invited him to play for the national side, nobody was quite sure how to spell his name.
In a sense, this epitomised the sense of double alienation that has afflicted Messi throughout his career. And so the letter was eventually addressed to “Leonel Mecci”.