To say Lionel Messi has led a successful career would be putting things mildly.
The Barcelona star has amassed an unparalleled tally of goals and trophies during his time in the game and has a strong claim to being the best ever. After all, only Cristiano Ronaldo can lay claim to a comparable record in the modern game.
Naturally, Messi has reaped the benefits from his footballing talent and life in the limelight. While he may not flaunt his rewards in quite the manner of his Real Madrid rival, blockbuster contracts and hearty sponsorship deals certainly have their perks.
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Despite all that, though, it would take a brave man to bet on Messi going as far as opening his very own theme park. Nevertheless, if there was such a brave man then he will certainly be in the money – the world’s gone mad.
With the mercurial striker entering his thirteenth year in the sport, he has taken the step of tackling Disney with his own theme park in China. The project is as ambitious and it is initially surprising.
Furthermore, thanks to the Independent, a number of the planned park’s details have been revealed. The park will open in early 2019 and marketing it as concerning all things Messi is quite the understatement.
In fact, the park will feature no less than 20 attractions and all of them will be themed around the 29-year-old himself.
The site will also feature virtual and augmented reality, which will allow patrons to relive the highlights of his career. It will also take people through training sessions with a virtual Messi serving as coach.
There are plans for no less than 46,000 square metres of indoor facilities and 12,000 square metres for more leisurely garden games. An extra 25,00 square metres will be dedicated to public space.
The brains behind the operation proves a consortium of Chinese firms who have been given the go-ahead by the player’s image rights company – Leo Messi management. Spanish production company Mediapro is also involved.
Moreover, they are certainly talking up the park. The group promises to offer: “the world's finest theme park.
“The most cutting-edge technology, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in all things Messi by combining the latest-generation attractions with the very best advances in content and multimedia attractions.”
Messi himself certainly sounds enthusiastic too, explaining: “I hope to provide them the experience they never had before and to inspire them to pick up the sport early on. Hopefully, they will feel that I am around when visiting the park.”
You could certainly argue that it screams the kind of narcissism you would associate more with Ronaldo yet the project seems to have the best intentions. Besides, you can hardly blame Messi for riding the wave of his fame and popularity.
With five Ballon d’Ors and four Champions League titles, it’s fair to say he’s earned it.
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