Guillem Balagué and Xavi Llorens

Guillem Balagué and Xavi Llorens / PHOTO: VÍCTOR SALGADO-FCB

Guillem Balagué, journalist and Catalan author who resides in London, presented the Catalan and Spanish versions of the first authorised biography of Leo Messi this Thursday at the Casa del Libro in Barcelona. The 600-page account covers and analyses the successes of the FC Barcelona forward as told by individuals close to the Argentinian and testimony from those who have followed his career.

In addition to detailing Messi’s career, Balagué includes the testimonies of former President Sandro Rosell, who wrote the epilogue to the biography, Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella, who wrote the prologue, and comments from team-mates Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Piqué and Mascherano. In addition, former FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, who managed Messi for four seasons, also offers up his testimony on the Argentinian genius.

Balagué, who has sold nearly 4,000 copies of the English version of the biography which was released in December, says that Messi’s success is primarily explained through his personality, which was molded through the hard experience of having to leave his family at the age of 13 and because “of his compulsive nature to win and his desire to constantly improve as a player.”

The reflections of his first manager

The presentation of the book, which was hosted by journalist Lluís Canut, was attended by the current manager of FC Barcelona’s women’s team, Xavi Llorens, who was also Messi’s first manager at the Club. Llorens, who at the time was in charge of the Club’s Infantil B team, remembers his first encounter with Messi: “He was a timid and reserved lad who went to the corner to change. Everyone kept on asking him where he was from and where he played.” On the pitch it was evident that he was different kind of player: “When he touched the ball for the first time you knew how extraordinary his talent was.” Llorens, who knows very well the sacrifices and hardships that young players endure, concludes that “Messi, in another team, would have been the best player in the world but Barça allowed him to reach the top 4 or 5 years sooner than he otherwise would have."