Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets: Barcelona’s Best Friends Revolutionizing MLS in Miami

Sergio Busquets will bring a slice of the old Costa del Garraf life for Lionel Messi when he finally settles in at Inter Miami. Everybody needs good neighbors and the pair were in and out of each others houses for over a decade when they were together at Barcelona.

One of the many advantages for Messi at Barca was being able to live in the quiet beach town of Gava, where he could drive into the neighboring town of Castelldefels every day to run errands or take his children to school without ever being bothered by the locals.

They had grown so used to seeing him over the years and were proud of the fact that they just treated him like another resident without every hassling him.

Busquets enjoyed the same idyllic life nearby in Les Botigues de Sitges. He lived with his family in the exclusive Rat Penat neighborhood but could also leave its gated security and venture into town without fear of being bothered.

The Messi clan (left) and the Busquets family (right) are set to be reunited at Inter Miami


Messi’s wife Antonella Roccuzzo (L) and Busquets’ partner Elena Galera (R) are close friends

The Argentine and the Spaniard had great success together at Barcelona for over a decade

The Messi clan and the Busquets family would regularly meet for barbecues to welcome new players to the club or celebrate birthdays. With Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba and their wives, and briefly with Philippe Coutinho and Cesc Fabregas and theirs, a group was formed that was always going to come back together again at some time in the future; be it post-retirement or playing together on another continent.

For a while it seemed that it might even happen with both playing together again at Barca. When Messi tried to return to Barcelona this summer the two planned for the possibility of enjoying their old lifestyle once more.

There were even suggestions that Messi had pre-enrolled his children in the same school attended by Busquet’s children Enzo and Levi.

The idea of seeing his team-mate at the school gates, as had happened previously when they played for the same team, did not last long because as is now well documented the club did not have the money to sign Messi, even after Busquets had left, much less pay both of them.

But the two had a long-held pact, made before the player left for France to sign for Paris Saint-Germain, and it was re-stated many times over at reunion meals since his departure: they had vowed that they would play together again in the same team, and that is exactly what will now happen in Miami.

Busquets had arrived at La Masia several years after Messi in 2005. In 2007, he played for Pep Guardiola in the club’s B team helping them win promotion from the third tier.

Messi had already graduated to the first team where he had won a league and a Champions League under Frank Rijkaard. But in 2008 Busquets and Messi found themselves on the training pitch together for the first time.

Guardiola had been promoted to first team coach at Barcelona and he had taken Busquets with him. ‘This one is good’ said Messi to Guardiola when he first spotted the spindly holding midfielder on the training ground. A footballing bond was instantly formed and the off-the-field connection would soon follow.

The closeness of the relationship was cemented by the way their wives became good friends

The 2022 World Cup winner is headed to the MLS after confirming his decision to join Miami

Busquets’ children and Messi’s sons Thiago, Mateo and Ciro (pictured) are also friends

Busquets will be 35 on July 16, this year. Messi turned 36 last Saturday. With just a year between them they found that they had much in common. There were also common personality traits.

They were both quiet and reserved but neither minded having more ebullient personalities around them. Busquets famously got on well with Diego Costa when he joined the Spain squad as an outsider ‘signed’ by the Spanish FA from Brazil. Likewise many at Barcelona wondered how Messi would take to Suarez but the pair became inseparable after he signed from Liverpool.

That combination of relaxed outlooks and an openness to the louder and more exuberant characters in football also became something that united Messi and Busquets over the years.

The two also shared an obsession with football at the cost of all other projects. Messi’s ventures into business beyond football have tended to be inspired by his family, in particular his father Jorge.

Busquets had no such motivating influences and took even longer to do as most modern players do now and put their money into other projects. Latterly he has become an investor in locally sourced food line Heura and in pastries brand Manolo Bakes.

What really cemented the closeness of the relationship was the way their wives also became good friends. Antonella Roccuzzo and Elena Galera have a friendship that meant the latter took time out to visit the former when she was feeling isolated in Paris where the Messi family never properly settled.

That friendship, and the one between Busquets’ children and Messi’s sons Thiago, Mateo and Ciro can also be resumed now that they are back at the same club. And most importantly for Inter Miami it’s a case of ‘fathers reunited’ out on the pitch.

When Busquets made his Barcelona debut in 2008 it was without Lionel Messi in the team. Barcelona had been beaten 1-0 away in Guardiola’s first game in charge and he left Messi, Andres Iniesta and Yaya Toure on the bench three days later for the midweek fixture against Racing Santander.

It was the first league game of the season at the Camp Nou and with 20-year-old Busquets came into midfield for his first ever match, alongside Xavi and Seydou Keita.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has decided to join David Beckham’s club Stateside

Most importantly for Inter Miami it’s a case of ‘fathers reunited’ out on the pitch

Busquets and Messi celebrate with Thiago, and Andres Iniesta during the 2011 Club World Cup

It did not end well for the team with a 1-1 draw leaving Guardiola’s balance after two matches in charge at just one point, and one goal scored. But in his column after the game Johan Cruyff wrote in Catalan paper El Periodico: ‘This Barça looks very, very good. Busquets is outstanding. Technically superior to Toure and Keita. And positionally, he plays like a veteran.’

In the next league game Messi and Busquets started together for the first time ever and the result was a resounding 6-1 win away at Sporting Gijon with Messi scoring twice. The Guardiola revolution was up and running and a beautiful footballing friendship between Messi and Busquets had begun.

They are now are set to debut together on July 21 in Fort Lauderdale against the Mexican side Cruz Azul.

It was always going to finish this way. When Messi told Guardiola back in that first ever senior training session together with Busquets: ‘This one is good’ Guardiola had replied: ‘Well you will see him in action soon enough.’

So it was with Barca, and so it will be now with Inter Miami.

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