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Football Reporting


‘Against my will, they put me next to Messi’ – Olmo reveals how he tried to refuse a picture with the Barcelona star

The Spaniard has opened up on the first time he met the six-time Ballon d’Or winner

Dani Olmo has revealed that he tried to refuse a picture with Lionel Messi during his youth, insisting he was put next to the Barcelona star against his will.

Olmo joined Barca’s famed La Masia academy in 2007, three seasons after Messi had made his first-team debut for the club, and spent seven years at Camp Nou before joining Dinamo Zagreb.

The Spaniard, who now plays for RB Leipzig in Germany, met the Argentine for the first time many years before his arrival in Catalonia, though, which he claims was an awkward experience that he had initially tried to avoid.

What’s been said?

“One time, before I even joined La Masia, I accompanied my father while he was managing a game at Castelldefels,” Olmo said during an interview for The Players Tribune.

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“I was eight years old. I was playing happily by myself with a ball, when someone — I think it was a friend of my dad’s — came over and told me, ‘Hey, Dani, come here! You’re not going to believe this. You’re going to have your picture taken with Lionel Messi!’

“Apparently, Messi had a friend playing in the Castelldefels game and had come down to see him. Wow, Messi, right? In Castelldefels? What kid wouldn’t want their picture with him?

“Well, me! I was like, ‘No, thanks. I’m good. I want to keep playing! It’s just a picture, right?’

“But, against my will, they stuck me next to Messi and took the picture. I didn’t even say anything to him. I just waited for the click and then I went back to my ball, like I was doing him a favour.”

The former Barca midfielder added: “In the end, I have to say I’m glad they forced me, because I’ve still got that picture framed at home. At the time though, I wasn’t happy to have my valuable playing time interrupted — even by an icon.”

Olmo’s career post-Barca

Olmo left Camp Nou in 2014 without a single first-team appearance to his name, but the experience he gained from training alongside a host of star names helped him hit the ground running with Dinamo.

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The 22-year-old quickly became a key player for the Croatian club, helping them win five successive league titles and reach the Champions League group stages.

Olmo was heavily linked with a return to Barca before Leipzig came calling in January 2020, tying the playmaker down to a bumper four-year deal.

He has since contributed nine goals and 12 assists to the Bundesliga outfit’s cause across 53 appearances, earning a regular spot in Spain’s national team in the process.

What has Messi achieved at Barca?

Messi was only just beginning to cement a standing as one of the world’s best players when he met Olmo, having initially burst onto the scene at Camp Nou as a 16-year-old in 2014.

Today, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is widely regarded as the greatest footballer in history, having won 34 titles with Barca while becoming their all-time leading goalscorer.

Messi’s trophy haul includes 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns, and the 33-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down in 2020-21 as the Blaugrana chase down a domestic double.

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