Joey Barton Criticizes Lionel Messi’s Legacy, Suggests Asterisk Due to Childhood Treatment

Former Premier League midfielder Joey Barton has stirred controversy by suggesting that Lionel Messi’s football legacy should be marked with an asterisk due to the treatment the Argentine received as a child to combat a growth hormone deficiency. Despite Messi’s undisputed status as one of the greatest footballers in history, Barton argues that the circumstances surrounding his development warrant a closer examination.

Controversial Claims

Barton’s remarks, made on his Common Sense Podcast, suggest that Messi’s exceptional talent may have been influenced by early interventions such as growth hormone therapy, which Barton equates to being “genetically modified.” He asserts that Messi’s stature and prowess on the pitch may have been altered by such medical interventions, leading to questions about the authenticity of his achievements.

The Asterisk Argument

According to Barton, Messi’s journey to football superstardom was not solely the result of natural talent and hard work but also involved medical interventions that artificially enhanced his physical development. This assertion raises ethical and philosophical questions about the boundaries between natural ability and external interventions in sports and human achievement.

Messi’s Early Challenges

Messi’s childhood diagnosis of a growth hormone deficiency posed significant challenges to his future in football. The expensive treatment required to address this condition was initially covered by his father’s health insurance but later became financially burdensome. Despite these obstacles, Messi’s talent eventually caught the attention of Barcelona, where he underwent further medical assessments and ultimately embarked on a legendary career.

Barton’s Criticism

Barton’s criticism extends beyond Messi’s individual achievements to broader issues within the footballing community. His controversial remarks about female footballers, including BBC presenter Alex Scott and pundit Eni Aluko, have drawn condemnation for their sexist undertones and dismissive attitude toward women’s contributions to the sport. These comments reflect a troubling pattern of behavior that undermines efforts to promote gender equality and inclusivity in football.

Debating Legacy

The debate sparked by Barton’s comments raises fundamental questions about how we perceive and evaluate sporting achievements. Should Messi’s legacy be tarnished by the circumstances of his upbringing, or should his remarkable talent be celebrated despite any external factors that may have influenced his development? These questions underscore the complexities of assessing sporting greatness and the subjective nature of historical legacies.


Joey Barton’s controversial remarks regarding Lionel Messi’s legacy highlight the ongoing debate surrounding the intersection of talent, opportunity, and external influences in sports. While Messi’s achievements are undoubtedly remarkable, Barton’s insistence on placing an asterisk next to his name underscores the complexities and nuances inherent in assessing sporting greatness. Ultimately, the debate invites reflection on the nature of success, the role of external factors in individual achievement, and the importance of ethical considerations in evaluating athletic legacies.

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