Lionel Messi’s statue in Buenos Aires has been targeted for the second time in 15 months after vandals knocked the entire artwork off its podium.
The bronze figure of the Barcelona and Argentina legend was attacked by criminals at the start of the year when vandals chopped the statue in two before making off with the upper part of the installation.
Despite the statue being fixed soon after, the looters have once again taken tools to the effigy – only this time they left the statue near its base after cutting it at ankle level.
Only Messi’s famous feet and a football now sit atop the stage that it was erected on, and local authorities are trying to piece together just who could have been responsible for yet another crime.
Messi’s statue was unveiled on Paseo de la Gloria in June 2016 to commemorate his legendary status as one of Argentina’s finest footballing exports.
The 30-year-old has suffered from criticism from fans of the Argentinian national side in the past due to his failure to lead them to major international tournament success, though it is up for debate as to whether this latest attack on his immortalisation is down to that reason
Messi is adored among La Blaugrana’s fanbase for the trophies he has secured – and records he has broken – in his adoptive homeland but such support has not always transferred to his supporters on the international scene.
The forward, who will go down as one of the greatest players of all-time when he retires, has spoken of his desire to return to South America and play for former club Newell’s Old Boys before he retires.
Doing so, and also winning the World Cup, would help to see a sea of change among those who don’t fully support the mercurial Messi.