The news that Lionel Messi is attempting to leave Barcelona has, unsurprisingly, sent social media into a frenzy – with clubs across the sporting world scrambling to tempt the superstar into their colours.
With his club heavily linked with the maestro, former Oasis singer and Manchester City fan Liam Gallagher likened the rush of transfer speculation to “the space race”.
“The messiah on his way to Manchester City fc c’mon you know… I’m getting my Lionel’s out,” he tweeted.
I’m getting my Lionel’s out
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) August 26, 2020
Others displayed even more optimism. In a desperate attempt to lure the Argentine to Lancashire, former Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba tweeted: “Dear Messi, Could you consider @OfficialBWFC as one of your options… #comeonyoutrotters”
Could you consider @OfficialBWFC as one of your options
— fabrice muamba (@fmuamba6) August 25, 2020
Grimsby fan and comedian Lloyd Griffith appeared to take it upon himself to try and broker a deal for his club – sharing an old photo of himself shaking hands with the superstar and asserting: “I’ll sort this”.
— Grimsby Town F.C. (@officialgtfc) August 25, 2020
In response, the Mariners joked: “We told you to start discussions with him secretly… not leak it to the world press.”
For many the news proved a golden opportunity to flex their photo-editing muscle, with Port Vale artistically grafting Messi’s head onto the shoulders of one of their own.
Come for the oatcakes. Stay for the away shirt.
— Port Vale FC (@OfficialPVFC) August 25, 2020
“Come for the oatcakes. Stay for the away shirt,” they tweeted in a plea to the Argentine.
Newcastle defender Federico Fernandez was asked by a fan to enquire whether compatriot Messi was a fan of bridges, with a view to a move to Tyneside.
“I will,” promised Fernandez on Twitter.
In Canada, the Vancouver Whitecaps quipped that their negotiations had already begun with the player.
A screen capture showed someone from the club messaging the forward on Instagram, typing: “Hear me out.”
Some teams even wondered if Messi, 33, was ready to swap sports altogether.
Mercedes floated the idea of a move to Formula One, asking whether Messi had ever “thought about moving to Brackley”.
Minor League Baseball team the Fresno Grizzlies posted an edited image of Messi in their jersey, adding: “Wonder if Messi has ever thought of trying out baseball.”
Wonder if Messi has ever thought of trying out baseball 🤔 pic.twitter.com/zJqOQOYUlf
— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) August 25, 2020
Even the International Triathlon Union felt it was time for a change of discipline.
Hold the guns. We have a last minute entry for @hamburgwasser next week.
— World Triathlon (@worldtriathlon) August 25, 2020
“Hold the guns. We have a last-minute entry for (Hamburg Wasser) next week,” it tweeted.
Perhaps the most surprising online response to Messi’s transfer request came from his team-mates.
— Luis Suarez (@LuisSuarez9) August 25, 2020
Barca legend Carles Puyol tweeted about his “respect and admiration” after the decision – to which Messi’s current strike partner Luis Suarez responded with clapping emojis.
However, for many the most unexpected element of the whole saga was that Messi sent a fax to Barcelona to tell the LaLiga giants of his intention to leave.
Messi shut down the internet with a message sent on a fax machine. If this doesn't prove how big he is,idk what will.
— Tega 🔥 (@haa_ree0) August 25, 2020
Bemused by the millionaire star’s choice of dated technology, Twitter user @haa_ree0 tweeted: “Messi shut down the internet with a message sent on a fax machine.
“If this doesn’t prove how big he is, (I don’t know) what will.”