Why Pablo Maffeo didn't swap shirts with Lionel Messi after man-marking him

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On Saturday night, Pablo Maffeo had one job and one job only - to stop Lionel Messi from scoring.

Maffeo - who is on loan at Girona from Manchester City - came up against the superstar during Girona’s La Liga clash against Barcelona.

And to stop him from scoring, the 20-year-old followed him around the pitch during the 78 minutes he was on it.

While Maffeo did his job perfectly, his fellow teammates didn’t,

Two own-goals put Barca 2-0 ahead before Luis Suarez added a third late on.

While the five-time Ballon d’Or winner may not have enjoyed being man-marked all match, he did have time for a little chat with Maffeo.

What Messi said to Maffeo

The 20-year-old said it was "very good vibes with Leo Messi” - and he even asked about City.

"When you mark Messi, you have to think that he is a normal person, he has two legs like all of us, and to be focused," Maffeo said after the match. 

"Messi told me: 'I've got you here for the whole day' and I said: ’You're the best in the world, I'm not going to leave you.’


"He asked me how old I was, if I had been assigned by Manchester City and what it was like there. He said the marking was not pleasant.

"Messi and I were together the whole match. He has asked me a couple of things. He is a good person."


Why didn't they shirt swap?

So, when the match finished, you would have thought that the two players would swap shirts. After all, Maffeo was grabbing hold of Messi’s most of the game.

However, rather remarkably, Maffeo turned down Messi’s request to swap shirts.


“A friend of mine wanted Ter Stegen’s shirt so I asked the goalkeeper,” Maffeo said.

“Messi is the best in the world, but friends come first.”



Messi probably hasn’t played against too many players that have refused to swap shirts with him.

Messi probably hasn’t been man-marked so intently for a whole match, either. And Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has admitted that his star player didn’t quite know what to do.

“It can happen, but it’s also true that this makes for moments when he can drag his marker out of position and take advantage,” Valverde said.

“Messi came to me in the 10th minute to ask how I wanted him to deal with his marker. Messi did well, he was calm and helped the team.”

Sergio Aguero
Premier League
Manchester City
Lionel Messi
Luis Suarez
La Liga

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