The new statue of Lionel Messi, along the Paseo de la gloria (Glory Promenade) in the Costanera Sur. The larger-than-life bronze statue of the five time player of the year is by sculptor, Carlos Benavides.
The erection of the statue came at a timely moment to demonstrate some Argentine affection for the star, who is sometimes derided in his home country. After missing a penalty in a shootout at the 2016 Centennial Cup America causing a loss to arch rival Chile, Messi announced he would retire from the Argentine team. The move caused fans to panic and a Twitter storm with the #notevayasleo (Don’t go Messi) hashtag going viral. The city of Buenos Aires also made the same request on electronic message boards in transport hubs throughout the city. Even President Macri called Messi to urge him not to quit the team. He is also considering not renewing his contract with FC Barcelona in 2018. Additionally, Messi was also found guilty of tax fraud in a Spanish court this month and received a 21 month suspended sentence and fines.
The statue adds to the Costanera Sur’s collection of Argentine sport greats along the promenade, including Guillermo Vilas, Emanuel Ginóbili, Gabriela Sabatini, Luciana Aymar, Roberto de Vicenzo, Hugo Porta, José Meolan, Pascual Pérez and Juan Manuel Fangio.