The little Argentine genius rewrote the record books during his time in the club’s first-team, winning trophies galore and scoring goals with frightening regularity.
Messi was also part of Barcelona’s greatest ever youth team, the famous class of ’87 – named after the birth year of the players involved.
In the 2002/03 season, the Blaugrana’s Under-15 side that included Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique was virtually unstoppable. They won three trophies and didn’t drop a single point in league action.
And there was even one member of that all-conquering collection of players that was rated higher than Messi at the time, if you can believe it. His name is Victor Vazquez and he was also the Argentine icon’s best friend at La Masia.
“I remember Messi and Victor were by far the best players in our team,” Fabregas said. “Sometimes they would go in for head-to-head duels. If one scored four in one game, the other would hit five.”
Even Vazquez himself once remarked: “They were talking about me more than Messi.”
So what happened to the man who was tipped to go further than arguably the greatest footballer in history? Well, let’s find out…
What happened to Victor Vazquez?
Unlike Messi, Vazquez was unable to break into Barcelona’s first-team on a regular basis and ended up making just three senior appearances, one in La Liga and two in the Champions League.
A serious knee injury while representing the club’s reserves in February 2009 effectively ended his chances of becoming a huge success in Catalonia.
Vazquez did score his one and only senior goal for the club after returning from the prolonged spell on the treatment table, though, the silky playmaker finding the back of the net against Rubin Kazan in December 2010.
But the injury had taken its toll on the Spaniard. He wasn’t as mobile anymore and Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola opted to let him move elsewhere the following year.
Redemption at Club Brugge
It was in Belgium where Vazquez really found his feet in the professional game.
Over the course of four years in the country’s capital, the La Masia graduate played some brilliant football and remained relatively injury-free.
Vazquez played 173 games for Club Brugge, scoring 25 goals, assisting a further 50 and winning two trophies.
He was even named the Belgian Footballer of the Year for his efforts in the 2014/15 season, a stellar achievement.
Journeyman career from 2016 to the present day
Vazquez left Club Brugge in December 2015 to join Mexican outfit Cruz Azul and he didn’t exactly enjoy his time there.
In 23 appearances, the Barcelona-born midfielder scored just one goal and contributed a single assist, a far cry from his output in the Belgian top-flight.
Vazquez signed for Toronto FC in February 2017, where he experienced something of a renaissance. Sixty-five games across all competitions for the club yielded an impressive 18 goals and 17 assists.
Messi’s close mate was even named in the MLS Best XI for 2017 and also helped Toronto win the MLS Cup that same year.
After a very successful two-year spell in the heart of Canada, which was slightly hampered by injuries towards the end, Vazquez joined Al-Arabi SC in the Qatar Stars League.
He played just seven games for the club before moving to fellow Qatari outfit Umm Salal at the end of the 2018/19 season.
Vazquez only managed nine appearances there and was soon off on his travels once again, returning to the Belgian top-flight in August 2020 with K.A.S. Eupen.
The 35-year-old spent just two months back in Belgium before asking to be released for personal reasons and in March 2021, he found yet another club in the form of LA Galaxy – which is his current team.
At the time of writing, Vazquez has played 28 times for the MLS team, netting three goals and delivering five assists.
His career has certainly been a rollercoaster ride, that’s for sure.