A month after the Rosario-born superstar led the national team to their first major title in 28 years, Messi was again the centre of attention as the club announced he would end his 18-year relationship with them and not sign a new playing contract, Reuters reported.
Following Diego Maradona's death last year, Messi is the best-known face in Argentine sport and a category apart for the country's media.
Most news sites have sections dedicated to domestic leagues, the national team, rugby and other sports. Most also have one exclusively for Messi, such is the volume of news he generates.
So the unexpected news of his split with Barcelona dominated the headlines in his homeland, with some newspapers live blogging the news and updates.
Broadcaster TyC Sports had 14 Messi-related stories on their home page; the normally staid La Nacion and sports newspaper Ole had seven each.
Television and radio discussed the reasons for the split and speculated on where he might go now. Some even had correspondents reporting live from outside Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium.
Messi had been expected to sign a deal to keep him at the club he joined as a 13-year old but the Catalan giants were unable to restructure their finances and remain within La Liga's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, even as Messi was reported to have accepted a reduced salary.
La Liga chief Javier Tebas said last month that Barcelona, who have a total debt of more than €1 billion ($1.18 billion), would not be shown any leniency when it comes to obeying the league's strict financial control rules.
The news of Messi's exit came a day after La Liga agreed in principle to sell 10% of a newly formed company housing most of its business to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for €2.7 billion.
In addition to the news of his departure, much of Thursday’s coverage involved memes, statistics and recaps of Messi’s glittering career.
Some tried to explain the CVC deal and the FFP regulations.
Others seemed to find it all a bit hard to believe. La Nacion asked: ‘What if Messi stays at Barcelona?’
Some people in Spain insist this announcement is a play by Barca president Joan Laporta, looking for force La Liga’s hand despite Tebas’s stubborn stance, believing the Spanish top flight cannot stand to lose its best player, goal.com reported.
There are even more conspiratorial viewpoints.
“We demand to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” wrote an angered Lluis Mascaro in Sport.
“[Laporta] has to explain this very, very, very well. Some say that Barcelona never wanted to renew Messi’s deal and all the negotiations were a sad sham.”
Meanwhile, bookmakers were leaning towards PSG as Messi’s next destination.
“Punters think the Argentinian wizard’s next destination is likely to be 1,000km north in Paris, with PSG the 5/6 favourites to secure his signature,” said Darren Hughes of bookmakers.co.uk, AFP reported.
“For those that think the latest twist in this sorry tale may prove to be yet another double-bluff, Messi is 10/3 to start next season in Camp Nou.
“Other options include Manchester City at 7/2, or any MLS club at 11/1, while even a return to his homeland with Newell’s Old Boys is a staggering 20/1.”