After watching Lionel Messi getting slide tackled, artfully making something of it and then popping up with an “who? me?” look for the umpteenth time in last week’s final leg of the Barcelona v Real Madrid Champions League match I suddenly realized that he’s the Charlie Chaplain of contemporary soccer. Both look completely innocent as they destroy their targets whether that means slicing and dicing elite continental defenses or presenting one of the most inspired, hilarious and ruthless parodies of power.
Really it’s that neither looks dangerous, it’s their disarmingly buffoonish aspect that distracts you from just how good they are. Chaplain cultivated that sad sack look behind bold makeup in order to enhance the deception. With Messi it’s just byproduct: His mop top and slight physique make him look entirely out of place amongst the ripped and gelled players that surround him even though he’d never miss an opportunity to score on them.