I put off writing this piece for a couple of days out of respect to Real Madrid.
Los Blancos were crowned champions of Spain for the 33rd time on Sunday night following a 2-0 win over Malaga.
They were La Liga’s best team this season without a shadow of doubt and they deserved at least 48 hours of partying without mention of their long-time rivals Barcelona.
But now that enough time has passed and Alvaro Morata’s hangover has lost its sting, there’s something we need to discuss.
Did you see Messi’s second goal on Sunday?
With just over a minute to play before the end of a ultimately disappointing season for Barcelona, the great Argentine No10 scored a goal worthy of the Puskas Award.
At pretty much the precise moment the final whistle was blown in Malaga, prompting euphoric scenes among Madrid’s players and fans, Messi picked the ball up on the halfway line and charged towards goal.
As Sergio Ramos embraced Cristiano Ronaldo and kissed him on the cheek, Messi wriggled in between two defenders.
As Marcelo leapt on Toni Kroos’ back and hollered in celebration, Messi dropped a shoulder and shimmied past another defender, then cut back inside, taking three more Eibar players out of the game.
As the calm and collected Zinedine Zidane allowed himself a broad smile and a couple of enthusiastic fist pumps, Messi glided into the box and beat Yoel with a snap right-foot finish.
I needed the replay to confirm exactly what had just happened.
During the live broadcast the middle section of Messi’s run had been replaced with footage of Luis Suarez’s pained expression having just squandered a chance of his own.
You would have thought that by now television directors would have learned not to cut away from Messi when he has the ball at his feet.
Even when he’s on the halfway line with seven defenders between him and the goal.
The timing of it seemed somehow pertinent but I couldn’t quite figure out why.
I didn’t dwell on it because the brilliance of Ronaldo, Modric, Isco and co deserved to be in focus.
But since Sunday I’ve found myself constantly asking: What does it mean when the world’s best player scores a breathtaking goal at the exact moment it becomes completely pointless in the context of the league?
The day belonged to Madrid of course, nothing would change that, not even Barca’s comeback from 2-0 down to win 4-2.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s composed finish after 90 seconds had removed even the smallest slither of hope of a last day Catalan triumph.
There’s no doubt that Messi and co would have been aware of the situation in Malaga.
Realising the title race was up and his side had come out second best, Messi’s frustration allowed him to tap into his special reserves of talent.
For eight breathtaking seconds he morphed into Super Messi.
The same supernatural being who mirrored Diego Maradona’s 1986 wondergoal against Getafe in 2007; the same Messi who scored four past Arsenal in 2010; who scored five goals against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012; the same Messi who snatched victory in El Clasico earlier this season; the same Messi we’ve seen so many times over the years.
This pointless Puskas Award contender was a statement.
This was Messi saying to his team-mates, look how good I have been this year and we still finished second best.
It was a message to the world as well; congratulations Madrid, but this is the calibre of player waiting for you next season.
The 92nd minute goal was also a gift for fans inside the Nou Camp.
Glancing down at their phones they would have seen confirmation of Madrid’s win.
When they looked back up, they saw Messi, their gift from the heavens, at his scintillating best, cushioning the blow in the only he knows how, with a truly special goal.
This strike was Messi’s 37th league goal of the season, his 53rd in all competitions.
His best and most pointless goal of the campaign.
Given the timing there’s a good chance this goal will be somewhat lost when it comes to reviews of the season.
And while I firmly believe this goal worthy of Puskas Award recognition, I will not be surprised if it is omitted from the nominations.
It won’t count for much to the great man, but I hold Messi’s redundant golazo in high regard.
Even though I still haven’t quite figured out what it means.
Obviously I can’t show you footage of the goal without breaking licensing laws.
But I urge you to watch it on YouTube, where some mavericks have taken the risk…