March 09, 2018

The photo that changed the face of the beautiful game

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The image of Lionel Messi celebrating Barcelona's historic comeback against PSG in the Champions League is already iconic, but when you dig a little deeper, the significance of the photo to football as a whole really hits home.

Santiago Garces would have laughed in your face had you told him quite how important the photo of Lionel Messi celebrating with the Barcelona faithful on that famous night would prove to be to the entire institution of football.

The image was perfect in every sense of the word, the King of the Camp Nou celebrating an historic achievement with the watching fans. Little wonder it went viral, with Barcelona claiming that 70m people viewed the image in the three days following the game.

When Barca fell to a shock 4-0 defeat in Paris, no one gave them a prayer in the return leg. However an inspired performance saw them come back from the dead, with Sergi Roberto - the most unlikely of heroes - scoring late on to seal an incredible victory.

However, PSG weren't the only victims that night, with the game also having a huge impact on the future of a certain Neymar Jr.

The Brazilian had been in fine form on the night, turning in a virtuoso performance as he scored twice in the 88th and 90th minutes, keeping his cool to convert a free-kick and then a penalty before eclipsing those achievements by laying on the winner for Roberto.

It was his coming of age, his announcement on the world stage and the beginning of the end for his Barcelona career.

Despite Neymar having played as big a part as anyone in the comeback, it was Lionel Messi and that photo that dominated the backpages in the days and weeks that followed.

Neymar's limelight had been stolen, the quality of his performance forgotten in a media-induced Messi frenzy.

The Samba star was understandably frustrated, though many thought that would pass. Those people were wrong.

The former Santos man had an epiphany that night, he now saw the almost futility of playing alongside the man affectionately known as 'the flea' and was now all too aware of the fact that he would never be the main man at Barcelona as long as Messi was there.

If he couldn't be the main man, by definition he couldn't win the Ballon d'Or, something that has been a burning desire for the Brazil star since his more formative years.

With his father whispering in his ear and frustration coursing through his veins a decision was made and when PSG came calling the following summer the player didn't have to think twice.

To think that a photo could cause a transfer is not such a strange thought, but this was no ordinary transfer.

PSG parted with a world-record fee of €222m for Neymar, somthing that had a knock-on effect on almost every deal for the rest of the summer and every transfer window since.

The going rate for players quadrupled overnight as football finances reached a never before seen level and all because of a photo.

A butterfly flaps its wings in China and causes an earthquake in Brazil...

The image of Lionel Messi celebrating Barcelona's historic comeback against PSG in the Champions League is already iconic, but when you dig a little deeper, the significance of the photo to football as a whole really hits home.

Santiago Garces would have laughed in your face had you told him quite how important the photo of Lionel Messi celebrating with the Barcelona faithful on that famous night would prove to be to the entire institution of football.

The image was perfect in every sense of the word, the King of the Camp Nou celebrating an historic achievement with the watching fans. Little wonder it went viral, with Barcelona claiming that 70m people viewed the image in the three days following the game.

When Barca fell to a shock 4-0 defeat in Paris, no one gave them a prayer in the return leg. However an inspired performance saw them come back from the dead, with Sergi Roberto - the most unlikely of heroes - scoring late on to seal an incredible victory.

However, PSG weren't the only victims that night, with the game also having a huge impact on the future of a certain Neymar Jr.

The Brazilian had been in fine form on the night, turning in a virtuoso performance as he scored twice in the 88th and 90th minutes, keeping his cool to convert a free-kick and then a penalty before eclipsing those achievements by laying on the winner for Roberto.

It was his coming of age, his announcement on the world stage and the beginning of the end for his Barcelona career.

Despite Neymar having played as big a part as anyone in the comeback, it was Lionel Messi and that photo that dominated the backpages in the days and weeks that followed.

Neymar's limelight had been stolen, the quality of his performance forgotten in a media-induced Messi frenzy.

The Samba star was understandably frustrated, though many thought that would pass. Those people were wrong.

The former Santos man had an epiphany that night, he now saw the almost futility of playing alongside the man affectionately known as 'the flea' and was now all too aware of the fact that he would never be the main man at Barcelona as long as Messi was there.

If he couldn't be the main man, by definition he couldn't win the Ballon d'Or, something that has been a burning desire for the Brazil star since his more formative years.

With his father whispering in his ear and frustration coursing through his veins a decision was made and when PSG came calling the following summer the player didn't have to think twice.

To think that a photo could cause a transfer is not such a strange thought, but this was no ordinary transfer.

PSG parted with a world-record fee of €222m for Neymar, somthing that had a knock-on effect on almost every deal for the rest of the summer and every transfer window since.

The going rate for players quadrupled overnight as football finances reached a never before seen level and all because of a photo.

A butterfly flaps its wings in China and causes an earthquake in Brazil...