On Tuesday, August 25, Lionel Messi broke the global COVID-19 trend that had monopolized so far the Internet and surpassed the Coronavirus in Google searches. Through a burofax, the Argentine star announced his departure from Barcelona, the club that saw him grow as the best footballer in the world.
Why is Messi leaving and why did his decision impact globally?
Broke it again
Since COVID-19 was detonated around the world, the predominant trends in Google searches had revolved around the virus and its derivative themes: its impact on the economy, health, psychology, education, labor, among others. It seemed unusual that this hegemony was broken, especially because the word “Coronavirus” is emerging to be the most sought after in history.
On the other hand, Messi has scored more than 700 goals, has 6 pichichis, 6 golden balls, 6 golden boots, top scorer in the Champions League on 6 occasions, historical top scorer with his national team and number of other records.
The news of his departure from Barcelona immediately generated a global shock wave. The impact of such news became a chain reaction that has not yet fully manifested itself in the world of football and sports, as well as, in its multiple contexts: legal, financial, social, marketing, sponsors, plus those that add up.
And so, just when we thought that we had already seen everything in this 2020 pandemic, those of us who are soccer fans and Messi fans, these news “filled the plate” for us.
Messi out of Barcelona? How is it possible!
The shock rose exponentially. With the news, the dream of many of us was pulverized: to see Messi play at the Camp Nou with Barcelona. Like any fan and interested in the subject, I looked for a clue that made some sense, a sign that it was fake news or an official statement that went beyond the burofax. However, only one answer prevailed on the network: “Messi is leaving” and, around this phrase, a gale of speculation. The shock led to disbelief, then to grief and nostalgia.
Thus, just two hours after the burofax was disseminated, the numbers went up in Google searches worldwide:
- The most used terms were, of course, the word “Messi”, in addition to “Messi is leaving”, “Messi news”, “Messi Barcelona”, “Messi Barça”, “Culebrón Messi” or “What happened to Messi? “
- On a popularity scale of recent queries worldwide, from 0 to 100, Messi went from an 8 to an 86.
- The highest point was obtained around 8:00 p.m. (Spanish time), on the same Tuesday 25, exceeding the searches on Coronavirus.
- Visits to his official website <messi.com> increased 500% within moments of the news.
- Other terms that exploded in consultations were “burofax”, “Manchester City” (club that resonates as a possible destination for the Argentine) and “Bartomeu” (last name of the current president of the Barcelona club that, if it had 1% popularity in Spain, increased to 82%).
Furthermore, that August 25, both the media and fans were in the same place: we were both looking for “needles in the haystack” on the Internet, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; catching any reaction from soccer personalities, such as Carles Puyol (former player and former captain of Barcelona), who expressed his support for Messi, minutes after the burofax was published. The support was joined by Luis Suarez (Messi’s former teammate at the club) and Luis Figo (international soccer figure and former club player).
Messi positioned himself as a trend on Twitter. On the platform, memes and tweets with the hashtags #Messi #Messiseva circulated and big brands and personalities joined the trend, such as:
- Nasdaq and its tweet: “The #NasdaqFam is ready for Messi.”
- McDonalds Argentina and its image of a hamburger with the message: “We will never go away” plus message “The best in the world. #Untransferable”. In the accounts of the other countries it posted: “Just as Messi doesn’t stay, you don’t want to stay craving some french fries today.”
- Soccer teams from different parts of the world gave a wink and posted their respective uniforms with Messi’s name and number 10.
- Chicago Bulls did the same by posting a tweet of a photo of Messi grabbing a Bulls jersey with his last name and the respective number 10.
- Liam Gallagher, former singer of Oasis, filled his Twitter account with tweets like: “The messiah on his way to Manchester City fc c’mon you know.”
- In addition, on August 29, the page of the Brazilian soccer team Cruzeiro was hacked: they announced that Messi was signing with them.
Why does it shock us?
Messi is the inspirational story of the 13-year-old Argentine boy, with a gifted talent and health problems, who came to Barcelona with the firm goal of fulfilling his dreams: playing soccer and being the best footballer in the world.
Barcelona received him and financed his treatment. As a result, Messi rewarded the club handsomely: the 34 titles obtained during his stay, as well as his impressive record, back him up. Without a doubt, there is a before and after in the club with his arrival. It was natural to think that, with a 20-year career at Barҫa, number 10 would end his history as a footballer there.
Let’s admit it. Those are the kind of stories we love, and personally watching him play each season is inspiring. During his career at Barcelona, it was like witnessing the beginning, rise and peak of a world phenomenon. Witness the formation of an outlier and see him become the best player in the world. Messi makes the impossible look simple: he plays international competitions with the same enthusiasm as a child playing in his neighborhood.
It’s not that we didn’t think about his imminent retirement. The star is 33 years old and in the career of a footballer it is an age in which retirement must already be planned. However, we always took for granted that he would end his career at the club, with praise at the Camp Nou and the fans shouting in a collective explosion.
On the other hand, Messi leaves Barcelona before finishing his career, in an empty stadium, due to the health measures resulting from COVID-19, and in the midst of a controversy with the directive that, to this day, looks very stuck . Of course, his last goal with the club, scored against Napoli, has its characteristic prodigious manufacturing.
Let’s think of the club and Messi as brands. Although the Football Club Barcelona brand already had a track record and its ranks had included stars such as Cruyff, Maradona or Romario, the arrival of Messi revolutionized its foundations.
Barcelona had a certain role in the Spanish league, although it was in the shadow of Real Madrid. Messi gave constancy, consistency and a personality to the club; it boosted its brand values and positioned it globally as a competitive and winning team.
On the other hand, Messi is the human being with exceptional talent; he is a global media athlete. He is a world brand carefully built, with defined values and philosophy: be competitive and win tournaments, without losing sight of the essence that, as a child, led him to consolidate in Barcelona.
Then, with the arrival of Pep Guardiola (Barcelona coach 2008-2012), a strategist with a great vision, the work materialized. Guardiola understood the qualities of Messi and knew how to structure a team in harmony with him to achieve a winning amalgam. The result: the so-called “sextete” (6 titles won in a row), making Barcelona the first Spanish team in history to do so. A goal from Messi, literally with the heart, consummated the feat.
Thus, for years Barcelona, Messi, strategists and players were aligned. Messi and the club worked in an ideal symbiosis that was materialized in those 34 titles.
The end of an era
From a couple of years ago to the present date, the philosophies of the Barcelona board of directors and Messi have diverged until culminating with today’s break. Messi gave messages and signals of his concern and discomfort at the club. As fans, we thought the situation would somehow be fixed, but it didn’t; specially, because he made his life in Barcelona and in the few interviews he has given, he stated that he did not want to leave.
Messi leaves because he feels his essence as a brand (and as a human being) is being compromised. And no, it is not that he puts his personal leadership before a club or that he is not loyal to it. The world-class athlete knew how to be one with the team.
It is shocking because Messi forged an identity together with his team and his departure causes a rupture of that identity.
Isn’t it commendable that a brand wants to develop in an environment and with strategists with whom it can generate a competitive project, without compromising its essence?
The Argentine is 33 years old, he still has 2 or 3 good football years left. Messi wants to finish his career being congruent and faithful to his philosophy, mission and brand vision emanating from the essence and objectives, of forceful clarity, which he raised from childhood.
I end by quoting the great Jorge Valdano, former soccer player, world champion with Argentina and a fine pen for analysis: “Being Messi means facing every day the enormous demand for success caused by the best player in the world. He is leaving because at 33 he cannot lift Barça alone and because, at this Barça, he cannot continue being Messi. ”
At Mijo! Brands, a creative digital marketing agency with offices in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, we have a multidisciplinary team of professionals, specialists in digital marketing strategies and successful brand creation who know how to promote you globally so that your brand becomes the outstanding one that differentiates itself from its competition, without compromising your essence.
Isabel Romero is Content Editor at Mijo! Brands. Thanks to literature and cinema, she has been able to identify and develop different approaches. She believes that it is necessary to solve from time to time the blunderbuss that involves the assembly of pieces that make up the Being. Of course, not before having topped off the food plates of her adopted dogs.