Is this goodbye? Teammates line up for photos with Lionel Messi following Copa del Rey victory
April 18, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 64.3%. 2 min read.
The group of people had lined up and were waiting patiently to have their photos taken with Lionel Messi -- but these weren't fans, they were the Argentine's Barcelona teammates.
(CNN)The group of people had lined up and were waiting patiently to have their photos taken with Lionel Messi -- but these weren't fans, they were the Argentine's Barcelona teammates.
One by one, members of the squad took it in turns to pose alongside Messi and the Copa del Rey trophy, which Barcelona had just claimed by beating Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in Saturday's final.
While this match was perhaps the breakout performance in a Barcelona shirt for youngster Frenkie de Jong -- for the first time truly resembling the star Barcelona bought from Ajax in 2019 -- it was Barcelona's third goal, Messi's first, that this game will be remembered for.
De Jong's return past found Messi inside the penalty area and the Argentine skipped between two Bilbao defenders and coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
READ: Martin Braithwaite spent time in a wheelchair as a child; now he's Lionel Messi's wingman at Barcelona
It's the kind of genius that fans have become accustomed to seeing when watching the diminutive No. 10 and it brought back memories of the opening goal in the 2015 Copa de Rey final -- also against Bilbao -- widely considered one of Messi's greatest ever.
Since Bilbao last won a major trophy in 1984, the club has now lost six Copa del Rey finals.
Four of those final defeats have been against Barcelona and Messi has scored in each of them.
This was Messi's 35th trophy with Barcelona, but it may also be his last.
Before the season started, Messi made it public that he had wanted to leave Barcelona "all year" and it remains to be seen whether the team's recent resurgence has changed his mind.
Those improvements have seen Barcelona close the gap to La Liga leader Atletico Madrid to just one point -- with Real Madrid just another point further back -- meaning Koeman and Messi have one more realistic chance of winning a trophy before the end of the season.
Whether this was goodbye or not, it was plain for all to see just how much this title meant to Lionel Messi -- Barcelona's first since 2019.
"It is very special to be captain of this team where I have spent my whole life," Messi said after the game.