Lionel Messi is no doubt the consensus pick as the best player in the world in his sport and clearly along with Cristiano Ronaldo, the best most recognizable and popular players in soccer.
Many players at this time of the year will and have played in charity and exhibition matches with the proceeds going to a charity or foundation. Messi is no different, as he will be playing in three exhibition games in the span of five days with proceeds going to his foundation.
While it is admirable that he is doing something in which proceeds will go to his foundation, the fact is that despite the spirit behind playing in these exhibition matches, Messi should not be playing in any of these three matches. If it were just one game, then it would be no issue but it’s three games he will be playing in and that’s two or three too many to be playing.
It must be noted that what lies ahead for Messi in his 2013-14 calendar is a loaded schedule that will begin in late August with La Liga matches for Barcelona, Champions League games, and it will end sometime in July of next year as he will be playing for Argentina in the 2014 World Cup. With a calendar that means playing a ten and a half month season with at least 60 games to be played, rest is of the premium.
While it is nice he wants to raise money for his foundation, Messi’s first obligation is to Barcelona and then to Argentina to make sure he is healthy given what he will be playing for this upcoming season. Let’s also remember that Messi ended the season battling a thigh injury, which limited his play and effectiveness. Most recently, he was a substitute in Argentina’s two most recent World Cup Qualifiers. Both games were draws.
Raising money for charity and or a foundation by a major athlete like Messi is always an admirable thing and should be applauded. That said, playing three exhibition games in five days is not something he should be doing at this stage of his career.
There will be plenty of time for him to play in such exhibition games once he decides to call it a career. But for now, he owes it to Barcelona and to Argentina to rest up fully for an important and hectic season ahead.