There is a pretty humorous meme in the social media stratosphere comparing an image of Lionel Messi before he met Neymar to a picture of Messi after the Brazilian’s arrival at Barcelona.
On the left, Messi’s skin is untainted and his hair is its natural brown colour. On the right, the Argentine has a sleeve tattoo and his hair is now blond.
If Messi’s alterations hinted at a desire to appear less clean, they’re nothing compared to his recent leg tattoo.
The black ‘sock’ that he showed off in an Argentina training session now covers the lower half of his left leg. It hides the flowers, footballs, wings and a sword that used to adorn the most famous part of his body.
The reaction on social media was pretty negative. But if Messi likes it, and it doesn’t impact his football skills, what’s the problem?
Well, the harm it could do to his body, apparently.
According to a specialist in tattoo removal, Messi’s new ink, done with the ‘blackout’ technique, isn’t without its risks.
"Currently the artists mix different tints and a totally black tattoo, that seems like it only consists of a base of carbon, could in reality include damaging ingredients," explained the Will Kirkby, a dermatologist, in Women's Health magazine (per Sport).
And should Messi decide his new sock isn’t for him, he’ll have a harder time removing it, too.
Before Neymar / After Neymar
The 29-year-old’s official tattooist, Robert Lopez, performed the artwork during the international break. Messi decided to keep the No. 10, the ball and the hands of his son, Thiago, while the rest is completely black.
Check out the reaction on Twitter to Messi’s new tattoo.
The new ink will be on display tonight when Argentina take on Brazil in a World Cup qualifier.
The Albiceleste have some work to do if they are to reach the tournament in Russia. They’re currently sixth in South American qualifying, a point behind the nation that occupies the last automatic qualification spot and five points behind group leaders Brazil.