LIONEL MESSI’S dad has hit the headlines over the last week as he tries to resolve his son’s future.
But this is not just the great man suddenly calling in his family to help out – Jorge Messi is a “cold-blooded analytic” ready to go head to head with one of the biggest clubs in the world to negotiate. Again.
With Messi, 33, desperate to leave Barcelona after falling out with the club’s board and a series of on-field failures, he is now relying on his father to make it happen.
The hero’s dad flew into Barcelona from Argentina for sit-down showdown talks with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Initial discussions ended in a stalemate but despite telling the Nou Camp chief his son is leaving, it is thought Messi may be resigned to the idea of staying and seeing out the last year of his current contract.
Jorge coached his son at Grandoli in Rosario – Lionel’s first club – but since then has always been in control of Messi’s off-field matters, right from when he first moved to Barcelona.
It was Messi Sr that arranged the trial, secretly flew with his son to Catalonia for a trial at Barca then played hard ball to ensure his 13-year-old son was paid around £106,000 per year, even offering him to Real Madrid at one point.
Three years after making his Barcelona debut, his child replaced Ronaldinho as the best-paid player at the Nou Camp.
He is described by Marca as “thoughtful and calm” but has earned a reputation for being notoriously difficult at the negotiating table.
One source told The Athletic he lacked humility, saying: “He can come across as self-important, as you would expect as the dad of the best player in the world.
“Most dads of footballers are, but the way it was described to me, how he acts in meetings with the club over the years has been classless.
“Everyone knows who your son is, you don’t need to act like that.”
And it was Messi Sr who would do everything with his wonderkid son when the pair lived together alone in Barcelona as the rest of the family moved back to Argentina.
It helps explain why the pair are inseparable when many advisors have been and gone over the years.
Even through their share of tough spells, none more so than the tax evasion court case and guilty verdicts, they trust one another wholeheartedly.
And that explains why Messi Sr is the one negotiating with Josep Maria Bartomeu to decide what happens next in the club captain’s career.
Some see this as a positive, keeping everything within the family, while others are less supportive, especially with Jorge’s lack of business experience.
Another source told The Athletic: “He tries to do everything for his son. He has not learned how to step back and move aside and let other people work in a more professional way.
“They are a good family, they love each other, but they do not seem to be particularly good at building relationships with people who can help them.”
Since they moved to Barcelona nearly 20 years ago, the former supervisor at a metal factory in Rosario has handled all of Messi’s dealings – from new contract after new contract to commercial sponsorships to being chief executive of his business and running the charitable foundation.
All in all, it is estimated Messi is worth around £309m.
Lionel Messi Limited rakes in around £134million each year and takes into consideration his £100m wages, £30m from sponsors such as Adidas, Gatorade, Pepsi, Huawei and MasterCard.
The rest is supplemented by the Messis’ property investments and other business interests, such as his hotels.
Their company offices are relatively modest and small in Barcelona with a limited number on the pay roll – because it is Messi and his dad, with the support of brother Rodrigo, who make the key decisions.
Messi’s foundation, meanwhile, has been praised for the amount of good causes it has supported since he established it following an emotional hospital trip in Boston to see terminally-ill children in 2007.
Inspired to put his mammoth wages towards helping others, the charity has proved a huge support for many children across the world.
Messi put £30m of his wealth to pay for the SJD Pediatric Center de Barcelona, the biggest children’s cancer centre in Europe.
It also emerged in August that the Argentine covered the cost of 50 respirators for hospitals in his hometown Rosario.
But now the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is relying on his dad to do what he has always done – one way or another – and take care of his footballing future.
That way Messi can concentrate on pursuing yet more medals and goals, whether that be in the red and blue of the Blaugrana, the sky blue at the Etihad or elsewhere.