Many players struggle with the image of them that is conveyed in the press, but one individual who has always profited from good critics is the four-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, who as a result has the image of a ‘good boy’ who rarely steps out of line.
Although that has been true for a long time, recent stories and scandals about the Barcelona forward have put a dampener on that idea that everyone had of him and tarnished his perfect image.
Some of these supposed ‘scandals’ seem fairly innocuous, such as when he was recently accused by an ex-Barcelona player of bullying his teammates with phrases such as “Considering how bad you are, I've no idea how you cost so much” which, although it does sound cruel, is natural footballing banter and something that happens on the training ground at all levels, from the youngest to the seniors.
Many people obviously consider such offensive behaviour a bad thing, as everyone should, but it is not a sign of particular harshness on his part, more of him fitting in to the casual footballing rivalry that happens in all clubs.
Another story that is difficult to take seriously is one that came out previously, accusing him of infidelity to his partner, along with a picture of him talking with a woman at a bar, reportedly of them flirting. However, we must keep in mind that everyone likes a celebrity and anyone who sees the exceptional Argentinian in a bar would naturally go talk to him. As for them flirting, anyone talking to such a famous person would want to get as close as possible, especially in a bar where that is the done thing.
The final, more credible, scandal which could cause genuine damage to his ‘good boy’ reputation is the tax fraud that he was accused of committing, having apparently set up off-shore accounts to put the money he earned from his image rights in and holding back a staggering €4m from the Spanish state.
What makes this story all the more worrying for him is that he was forced to appear in court, meaning that it was definitely true that he was being suspected of it by the authorities. Of course, that does not mean he is guilty, or that he was fully in charge of the money he received instead of his bank manager or advisor, but it does mean that he is not above suspicion from foul play.
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