Messi is no longer a footballer who plays for Barcelona. Some 21 years after he arrived in Catalonia, the greatest player the world has ever seen has walked away from a club that is a world away from the one he arrived at all those years ago. 

An astonishing 35 trophies have followed since he first turned out for the first team in 2003 and no player has ever verifiably scored more for one club. 

It really will be a strange moment seeing him turn out for the first time in a kit other than the famous blue and red of Barca. 

But as the dust settles and the shock starts to dissipate, the moments remain. 

Everyone has a favourite Messi, for some it’s the long haired, unpolished teenager scampering around the pitch, evading all before him. Others like the mature Messi, who would just as easily opt to set up a teammate than score himself.

The evolution of the greatest footballer to ever do it truly has been a privilege to watch. We’ve picked out seven of the most significant moments during his time at Camp Nou and the kits he wore. 


2003/04 away – vs Porto



The first time Messi ever turned out for Barcelona’s senior team was in a friendly match against Porto at the tender age of 16 years and four months. It’s hard to imagine that Messi first played for Barcelona little over a year after Ronaldo twice beat Oliver Khan to secure the World Cup. 


2004/05 home – vs Espanyol



After making his La Liga debut as a substitute against Espanyol, in the process sharing a pitch with probable future manager, Mauricio Pochettino, Messi was eased into the first team with a series of late substitute appearances. His first goal would come in his seventh official game for Barca with a delightful lob against Albacete that was set up by his close friend and mentor, Ronaldinho.


2006/07 home – 'that' Getafe goal 



By the time Messi lined up to take the pitch against Getafe on the 18th April 2007, his small stature and precocious talent were already drawing frequent comparisons to his compatriot, Diego Maradona. So when the 19 year old proceeded to slalom through the Getafe defence before scoring, the internet was inundated with side by sides of Maradona’s 86 World Cup goal and in a moment the world went from comparing Leo and Diego to wondering if the young man could even surpass his idol.


2008/09 home – the arrival of Pep



The 2008/09 season would prove to be the most important of his career. The arrival of Pep Guardiola, who moved Messi in from the wing, made him the teams undisputed focal point. A new contract and the famous #10 further cemented his status in the team as Messi and Barca completed an historic treble with their Champion’s League final victory over Manchester United. 


2009/10 home – Messi wins first Ballon D’or 



The 2009/10 season started with Barcelona becoming the first side to win six major honours in a calendar year and ended with their now 22 year old talisman receiving the Ballon D’or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards, both by a record margin.


2011/12 home – Pushing limits



Messi continued to push the limits on just how much one man can do during the 2011/12 season. Spurred on by his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi scored an astonishing 73 goals during the season. Following on from his remarkable 47 and 53 in the previous two campaigns. The season would see him become Barcelona’s all time record goalscorer at just 24 as he registered three or more goals in 10 different games. 


2014/15 home – Dominance



Quite probably the last great era of Barcelona dominance for some time began during the 2014/15 season. Luis Suarez’ arrival at Camp Nou prior to the start of the season saw the formation of arguably the most formidable forward line of all time as Messi lined up with fellow South American’s Suarez and Neymar. Messi’s 59 goals helped the trio reach a scarcely believable 122 combined goals as Barca won another league, cup and continental treble.


Words by Andy Gallagher


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