It began with a tearful Lionel Messi bidding farewell to the only club he has ever known and ended with an emotional atmosphere at the annual Joan Gamper trophy clash, which just happened to be against Messi’s great rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus! Aug. 8, 2021, will live long in the history of Barcelona.
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At noon CEST on Sunday, Lionel Messi stepped to the podium and said goodbye to Barcelona. AP Photo/Joan MonfortMessi’s Barca teammates watched on as the club’s greatest player fought through tears to speak. Andreu Dalmau/EPA-EFE/ShutterstockHow successful were Barcelona during Messi’s time at the club? Let this picture tell the story. Eric Alonso/Getty ImagesOutside of Camp Nou, Barcelona fans were still coming to terms with the exit of their hero. Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty ImagesFor many, all they have ever known is the Argentinean superstar wearing the club’s No. 10 shirt. Robert Bonet/NurPhoto/Getty ImagesA range of emotions pervaded Barcelona supporters as their idol spoke inside the stadium. Robert Bonet/NurPhoto/Getty ImagesHours later, Barca coach Ronald Koeman pledged to give fans ‘joy’ despite Messi’s exit. GettyAnd the post-Messi era at least got off to a winning start, with Memphis Depay starring against Juve. Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty ImagesMemphis opened the scoring early and later set up Martin Braithwaite to double the lead. Joan Monfort/AP PhotoThere was little Cristiano Ronaldo could do to affect the game during his 45 minutes of action. GettyBarca won a ninth straight Gamper trophy, but the game will be remembered for the man who was not there. Pau Barrena/Getty Images
A 3-0 win Sunday at least gave supporters reason to smile, but it might be some time before the joy truly returns. For this was the day that Lionel Messi — the former Barcelona player — said goodbye to the only club he has ever known.