This proves the power of Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
It’s not like Barca to keep deadwood players laying around. Just ask Alex Song and Lucas Digne.
So, with a reputation for being ruthless, there must have been a good reason behind perennial backup goalkeeper Pinto hanging around for so long.
Ah, that explains it.
Similar to how Arsene Wenger kept Philippe Senderos because the many languages he spoke helped new players settle in, Pinto is another whose primary purpose was away from the pitch.
It’s safe to say that the Catalan club would do literally anything if it kept Messi happy and playing at the top of his game.
It turns out that includes signing his best mate and keeping him on the books for six years, simply to appease the talisman Argentine.
Pinto was at Barca between 2008 and 2014, making just 89 appearances during that time.
The Spaniard was never seen as anything other than a backup option throughout his tenure, sporadically filling in for the first-choice Victor Valdes.
Pinto’s value to the side was however undoubted.
The enigmatic shot-stopper did wonders for relations between the club and Messi, as well as provide invaluable comedic value to Pep Guardiola’s dominant force.
The bond between Pinto and Messi was so strong. There were even rumours at one point of the Argentine threatening to leave if his football friend wasn’t offered a new deal.
Guardiola once described his backup goalkeeper as an “important part of the dressing room.” High praise indeed.
The end of the road finally came for Pinto in 2014. Wow so sad.
His final game, against Atletico Madrid, saw him become the oldest player to feature for Barca in La Liga at 38-years-old.
Following the announcement that Pinto would not receive a new deal, Spanish newspaper Marca ran the headline ‘Messi’s best mate is leaving.’
Nothing can stop the pair from meeting up though.
Three League titles and two Champions League winners medals later, Pinto must be the luckiest man to ever ‘play’ football.
Now 42-years-old and going by the name Pinto “Wahin”, he is actually enjoying a very successful post-playing career as a music producer and DJ.
His is truly one of football’s most bizarre tales.
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