Messi did it again against Betis. As in the first round at the Camp Nou, when he came to rest (1-1) and scored two goals and gave the ‘invisible’ assist to Griezmann without touching the ball (5-2), he returned to revolutionize a match against the Verdiblancos from the bench. In Heliópolis, the Argentine had touched the ball four times before receiving from Dembélé, adjusting the ball to his left leg and shooting Joel. Minutes later, he drew an impossible pass to Jordi Alba that ended in Víctor Ruiz’s own goal.
Messi showed that, in a pocket edition, he is also the best player in LaLiga. The Argentine has already scored 27 goals as a substitute in his career, a very high figure for someone who, like the six-time Ballon d’Or, has always been a starter. Messi caught up with Óscar de Paula and is already one goal away from Julio Salinas. It is intuited that Messi, who already has 651 goals with Barça, 457 of them in LaLiga, will beat another record.
Messi’s extraordinary performance as a substitute opens the debate on the possibility of taking more advantage of this express version of the Argentine. On the way to 34 years old, Messi showed at Villamarín that he can change games in just ten minutes and that, to preserve his physique and stretch his career of playing alone, it could be a reasonable plan, especially in away games. Of course, Messi always wants to play.
Valverde had already tried this version of Messi in the 2018-19 season. That course, he raised a match against Leganés (3-1), in which the pepineros had tied with a goal … from Brathwaite. Out, against Villarreal, in a spectacular outburst by Barça that ended with 4-4. And, finally, he left the day of Levante to give LaLiga to Barça on the day of the alirón with a goal in a nervous game that only resolved his mettle against Aitor.
Messi is also a bomb of mass destruction from the bench. It remains to be seen if Koeman, who has seemed to penetrate the Argentine, convinces him that, using him in small doses from time to time, Barça fans can enjoy it for many more years … if he decides to continue.