The art of being Leo Messi. The soccer star is the biggest deal – and art – in town

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The word “big” gets tossed around like a soccer ball in Miami these days with big real estate deals, big climate change, and big political news.

But for a certain ball-kicking soccer star – the BIG cleated shoe fits and he’s wearing them.

After winning the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and seven Ballon d’Or, the annual football award presented by French news magazine France Football for the World Player of the Year – and rejecting a massive payday – over $561M a year from the Saudis, Messi has landed in Miami.

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Lured by the Inter Miami American professional soccer club based in Fort Lauderdale, he was introduced at a flashy fireworks show dampened only by a little rain. On Friday night, he proved to be money well spent. Messi capped the opening night with his new club by delivering the unforgettable. His magical left foot sent a free kick into the upper left corner of the net in the 94th minute Friday night, giving Inter Miami a 2-1 win over Mexican club Cruz Azul in a Leagues Cup match.

Messi is now part of co-owner David Beckham’s Inter Miami, established in 2018. Inter Miami plays and trains at a 34-acre facility, which includes the 19,100-capacity DRV PNK Stadium, a 50,000-square-foot training center, and seven fields in Fort Lauderdale.

In Miami though, you are nothing unless you have a mural like Gloria Estefan and Celia Cruz.

So the new local superstar has one that also has Beckham’s approval by hyper-realist Argentinian artist Max Bagnasco at 148 Northwest 28th Street. A huge grinning bearded Messi is seen in a headshot and running elated on the field on the full wall mural.

Bagnasco has been a mural painter since 1998, he creates large scale very detailed, photorealistic portraits of giants Bob Marley, Diego Maradona, and baller Lebron James. Bagnasco was in Albania painting another mural when it was announced that Messi would be coming to Miami. The artist received a call from Gustavo Miculitzki from Block Capital Group who commissioned the massive photorealistic double portrait mural in Wynwood.

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WATCH: The Argentinian artist paints giant Lionel Messi mural in Miami

 

David Beckham couldn’t resist joining in.

“(He) came to paint with me!” Bagnasco said in an Instagram video when Beckham came to help paint. “Thank you for your visit… you are the king. Well, we are here with the giant Messi waiting to receive a new “Welcome Messi to Wynwood”… we’re happy.”

Beckham presented Bagnasco with a new Messi clothing set by a local clothing store.

Closer look of Leo Messi mural by Argentinian artist Max Bagnasco (Photo Alito Photography)

There is another mural before Bagnascos by Venezuelan artist Arlex Campos at 2303 NW 2nd Avenue. This one is full-on pink – the color of the summer combined with the Barbie film media blasts.

Messi is still wearing the blue and white stripes from Argentina that are blended with Inter Miami’s pink uniform and number 10. The mural has a photo scan quality with a serious-looking Messi standing with arms folded and a full sleeve of tattoos.

Campos has been in Miami for eight years and has gotten lots of praise for the mural he did in June.

“It’s a revolution for the league to have a player of this level playing for Inter,” Campos said. “It’s craziness for the city.”

The art of being Leo Messi
Mural of Leo Messi in Wynwood, Miami. (Photo Alito Photography)

A group called Vice City, the official supporters’ group for Inter Miami, started with a mural to welcome Messi at 55 NW 25th St.

Ignacio Martinez, one of the Vice City’s supporters says, “We started with the mural, and gatherings for our away game watch parties, now we’re working on a “telón” that I can’t disclose at the moment”.

There were painting sessions in the week leading up to Messi’s birthday for fans.

“Taking it to the street is part of our culture,” Chris Moramarco, the group’s co-founder and artist said. “It’s part of who we are.”

Messi has been at the entrance to the family-owned Argentinian restaurant Fiorito in 2018 at 5555 NE Second Ave. and repainted in 2020 by artist Claudio Picasso.

Maximiliano Alvarez, the restaurant owner is a longtime Messi fan. The restaurant got a lot of backlash when Argentine did not win a World Cup a few years ago, as fans thought the mural should be Maradona instead.

But time and a big deal have brought the art full circle. The paint is dry – let the games begin!

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