Lionel Messi: When Chiellini and Bonucci ‘argued’ for Barcelona star’s shirt

  • Rob Swan

Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini further cemented their status as two of the greatest centre-backs of their generation by playing a starring role in Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph.

The veteran defensive duo helped the Azzurri keep three clean consecutive sheets (against Turkey, Switzerland and Wales) in the group stages.

Bonucci and Chiellini continued to frustrate their opponents in the knockout stages and the Italians eventually lifted the Henri Delaunay trophy after defeating England at Wembley.


It was Bonucci who scored the all-important equaliser to cancel out Luke Shaw’s early opener in the final.

The 34-year-old also converted Italy’s third penalty of the shoot-out.


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Chiellini, meanwhile, made headlines for a cynical foul on Bukayo Saka before the end of normal time.

One Italy fan even immortalised the controversial foul by getting a tattoo of the incident.


When Bonucci and Chiellini 'argued' over Messi's shirt

Together, Bonucci and Chiellini have managed to thwart some of the world’s best attacking players down the years, including arguably the greatest of them all: Lionel Messi.

During the 2016-17 Champions League quarter-finals, Chiellini got himself on the scoresheet in a 3-0 victory over Messi and his Barcelona teammates.

Messi also failed to score in the second leg, but that didn’t prevent Bonucci and Chiellini from requesting the legendary forward’s shirt during the match.

The footage shows Bonucci heading towards Messi while saying: “Leo…”.

Chiellini then comes over and swipes his teammate’s hand away.

Either he wanted Messi’s shirt - as many people thought at the time - or he was telling Bonucci to concentrate on the game.

In any case, Bonucci wasn’t deterred.

“Leo…” he said again. “Can I have your shirt?”


Messi, who was looking crushed with his side on the verge of being eliminated from the Champions League, didn’t reply.

However, the Argentine was kind enough to grant Bonucci his wish after the full-time whistle.


"Getting Messi's shirt at the end of the game? I was pleased to have the jersey of the best player in the world,” Bonucci told reporters after the match. “My son will be very happy."

Bonucci and Chiellini are brothers on and off the pitch, but their relationship was put to the test that night by the GOAT.


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