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In the football universe, there are worlds within worlds, and one of them is that dedicated to shirt numbers. The stars have their numbers, the goalkeepers have theirs, there are others associated with wingers and midfielders, halfbacks and fullbacks. Something that had a lot of order to it many years ago, but the tradition is being lost.

Historically, since a team had eleven players on the field at once, the player numbers were, naturally, distributed from 1 to 11. That is, without a fixed number being assigned to each player. Rather, the numbers designated the position. They started in numerical order at the back - with the goalkeeper - and concluded at the other end with the strikers. But throughout history we have linked certain footballers with specific numbers. One of them was Johan Cruyff and his lucky 14 - at Ajax and the Netherlands - although at Barça he was number 9.

Johan Cruyff ilustracion @johancruyff

Photomontage Johan Cruyff / @johancruyff

Messi: three numbers as a 'culer'

And the great footballers, the very best in history, have always worn the number 10 shirt. Diego Armando Maradona, Pelé... and indeed, it is also the number that Leo Messi ended up wearing at Barça. However, looking at the entire period from the day of his debut until this last season, the Argentinian wore three different numbers with the Barça first team.

In his first two years, in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons, Messi wore the number 30 on his shirt. Then, as he became more important, it changed. The next two seasons he wore 19 - at that point, the number 10 was on Ronaldinho's back. And from the 2008/09 season, when the Brazilian was no longer at Barça, Messi inherited the perfect 10.

Meanwhile, in the Argentinian national team, apart from the number 10, Messi also wore a 15, and 18 and a 19 at times.

Messi Ronaldinho FCBarcelona

Leo Messi embracing Ronaldinho / FC Barcelona

A tribute to Barça?

Thus, for thirteen seasons at Barça, Messi wore a 10 on his back. Now that he has signed for PSG, however, that will change, as the owner of the number 10 shirt in Paris is Neymar Jr. Although it has already been explained in France that the Brazilian, his friend and former teammate during his time at Barça, has told Messi that he will hand over the number to the new arrival, the Argentinian has turned it down.

And his decision, still to be officially announced, is to accept the offer made to him by PSG. According to L'Équipe, the Parisian club proposed that he should wear the number 30, as he did in his early professional years with Barça - and the Argentinian is understood to have accepted.

Despite that, in France's Ligue 1 the number 30 is reserved for goalkeepers. However, in the case of Messi they may make an exception. If not, in the end, he would have the option of number 19, the other number he wore in his early days at Barça, but right now, Pablo Sarabia has that one.


Main image: Leo Messi caressing the Barça shield on his shirt / EFE