Footage shows Atlanta United player trying to get Lionel Messi's shirt, he already gave it away
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Lionel Messi is going to get hounded with shirt swap requests during his time at Inter Miami and he had two players desperate to get his jersey on Tuesday night.
After his incredible last-gasp free-kick debut winner against Cruz Azul on Friday, Messi made his first start at the DRV PNK Stadium and produced a masterclass.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner bagged a brace inside 22 minutes and registered an assist for teammate Robert Taylor, who also found the net twice in a 4-0 win over Atlanta United in the Leagues Cup.
Already Messi has had a transformative effect on a struggling side in just two games after signing a two-and-a-half-year contract with the MLS outfit.
'Messi Mania' is a thing and it applies to opposition players as well as fans. Messi is not really into the art of shirt swapping and infamously said he only asked to swap with Zinedine Zidane in his younger days.
Still, he has quite the shirt collection and often makes an exception for his fellow Argentines. Two compatriots play for Atlanta, his most recent opponents, and both wanted his shirt.
But it was 22-year-old Thiago Almada, a member of Argentina's World Cup-winning squad, who got the memento.
Messi had hugged the former Velez Sarsfield starlet in the warm-up and embraced him again when he departed the pitch in the 78th minute.
Then, at the end of the game, the two shared another moment and swapped jerseys.
Messi headed down the tunnel with Almada's shirt on his back but in footage broadcasted by Apple TV, he was approached by another Argentine.
Santi Sosa le pidió la camiseta a Messi, pero Leo ya se la había dado a Thiago Almada.— Mati (@matiasm_02) July 26, 2023
Él se la dejó igual.pic.twitter.com/hayVJDvPgA
Santiago Sosa asked Messi for his top but he appeared to explain that he'd already gifted it Almada.
Still, Sosa removed his shirt and handed it to Messi, who remained polite and accepted it.
Messi has a good relationship with Almada and asked for information about the MLS, though the talented midfielder didn't have it in him to give much away.
“He asked me about the league, wanted to know about the tournament, how the games were. But I was speechless,” Almada admitted, as per Fansided.
“He went to a great club, and for sure, he will make Inter Miami grow a lot. People are crazy, he will enjoy it very much and be very well received."
Messi's shirt sales at Inter are already through the roof, with Adidas experiencing a "unprecedented" demand and pre-ordered jerseys likely not arriving until October at the earliest.
The Barcelona legend will earn a healthy cut of all shirts sold by Adidas, who he has a lifetime contract with.
Messi and Inter have secured passage to the Leagues Cup round of 32 and will take on Orlando City, Houston Dynamo or Santos Laguna.