A statue of Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi has been vandalised in his homeland.

All that is left of the tribute to the little magician are his legs and a ball – funnily enough what he is best known for.

The head, body and arms have been stolen, and the artwork has now been taken away to be restored.

It was officially unveiled in June 2016 in Buenos Aires, just days after Messi announced he would no longer represent Argentina.

Messi made the announcement following Argentina’s defeat by Chile in the Copa America final.

It was hoped the tribute, as well as the national outpouring of grief, would lead to Messi to reconsider his decision.

Thankfully for world football, he did.

Situated nearby in the park where the statue once stood are fellow Argentine athletes racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio, basketball player Emanuel Ginobili and tennis player Gabriela Sabatini.

It’s certainly not been the best few days for Messi.

While he did score a sublime free-kick for Barcelona against Villareal, he was forced to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw that saw the Catalan club fall further behind Real Madrid in the title race.

Then yesterday, in the Fifa Best awards night in Zurich, Switzerland, Messi lost out to rival Cristiano Ronaldo to be named best player in the world.

Messi had already been pipped to the much-coveted Ballon d’Or by the Portuguese ace.


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