An absurd man doing absurd things in the States.

We’re delighted to announce that Lionel Messi is still football’s greatest extra-terrestrial

There are three inevitabilities of life; death, taxes and Lionel Messi taking your breath away.

For two decades, Messi has reinvented the perception of football genius with his exploits for Barcelona and Argentina. You almost envy younger supporters who are just discovering the pint-sized magician for the first time through YouTube compilations.

His name transcends sport; you can even imagine tribes in the Amazon rainforest entirely unconnected to human civilization have curled a skull between two trees and wheeled away shouting his name in celebration.

All of which means Messi’s move to Inter Miami in 2023 was headline news across the globe. Even America, infamous insular and protective when it comes to sport, was swept up in the mania surrounding his arrival in the MLS.

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As he awaited his return from injury against Colorado Rapids, Messi didn’t even to rise from the subs bench for the crowd to lose its collective sh*t. The sight of his bodyguard patrolling the sideline was enough to indicate his imminent arrival on the pitch.

And the 36-year-old was later left baffled as a young girl ran onto the pitch to beg for a selfie with him. You just don’t get this with Robbie Robinson.

But, then again, Robinson and every other active footballer isn’t capable of spell-binding pieces of sorcery that we’ve seen countless times but with an execution that remains almost inexplicable.

Franco Negri was released down the left and drove a pass across the edge of the box. Like a Tinder date who’s said they need the toilet as a decoy for an early exit, Messi had given his defender the slip and curled the ball in first time off the post.

The World Cup winner would provide an assist for Miami’s second, but a late Colorado equaliser meant he’d have to settle for a point in his comeback match.

Turning 37 this summer, Messi can probably see the end of his career fast approaching and discussed his retirement in a recent interview with the Big Time podcast.

“I know that the moment I feel that I am no longer able to perform, that I no longer enjoy [playing] or [can] help my teammates, I will quit,” Messi said.

“I’m very self-critical of myself, I know when I’m good, when I’m bad, when I’m playing well and when I’m playing badly.

“When I feel it’s time to take that step, I’ll take it without thinking about age. If I feel good, I’ll always try to keep competing because it’s what I like and I know how to do.

“I haven’t yet thought of what I’m going to do when I retire,” Messi continued. “Today I try to enjoy the day-to-day, the moments, without thinking about life after [football].

“I’m not sure about anything yet, I hope to keep playing for a while longer, which is what I like to do. When the time comes, I will surely find a way to fulfil myself and do what I like, and [find] a new role.

“On a sporting level I was lucky enough to be able to achieve all my dreams and the truth is that I can’t ask for more. Thank God he gave me [everything] both professionally and on a human level, as well as my family, my friends.

“I try to enjoy everything God has given me so far, which is a lot,” Messi concluded.

Even though many have cautioned against taking his genius for granted, it’s almost impossible not to do so when moments of Messi magic have delighted us with such regularity over the past two decades.

Alas, there will be a time very soon when any sighting of the Argentinian will be limited to the odd appearance as a FIFA dignitary or the occasional charity match.

One of life’s inevitabilities is slipping between our fingertips. Savour it while you still can.

By Michael Lee