Lionel Messi expected to wear old shirt number at Paris Saint-Germain
Neymar reportedly offered to give up the 10 shirt
Are shirt numbers important? On the one hand, not in the slightest. They have no provable physical bearing on how a footballer performs on the pitch. But it is undeniable that different numbers carry different expectations and indicate different roles. The string of players who failed to perform while wearing the 7 shirt at Manchester United after Cristiano Ronaldo would strongly support this theory.
And so it should come as no surprise that some of the world's most gifted players like to wear certain numbers. The likes of Pelé and Diego Maradona made the number 10 shirt hugely significant in their home countries, who could hardly ask for better players to have worn it for the last decade or so in Neymar and Lionel Messi, both of whom also wear 10 for their club sides, until Messi's departure from Barcelona was confirmed last week.
With Messi now set to join Paris Saint-Germain this week, the Ligue 1 club will now have two of the world's biggest superstars, with both preferring to wear the same shirt number.
Lucky for PSG, the pair are very close friends from their days at Barcelona together, and Neymar has reportedly even offered to sacrifice his beloved 10 shirt for Messi, should he want it.
But in typically humble fashion, Messi turned down the offer, and As reported by Julien Maynard of French media outlet TeleFoot, Messi is expected to wear his previous number for both Barcelona and Argentina: 19.
In the early stages of Messi's career, before he had truly established himself as the best player in the world, he donned the 19 shirt for club and country, with Ronaldinho wearing 10 at Barcelona and Juan Roman Riquelme wearing 10 for Argentina. After their respective departures, Messi assumed the 10 shirt for both teams and has become synonymous with the iconic number ever since.
It will be strange for football fans to see Messi playing for a different team, wearing a different number, and a sad reflection on Barcelona's mismanagement over the last 7 years that this is how his career ends.
But on the plus side, we get to see Messi and Neymar play together again. So, every cloud.