Does messi speak english ? Lionel Messi’s arrival at Inter Miami has triggered a tidal wave of excitement in the United States and in Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2023.
Messi opted to make the move to Florida following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain as part of a new chapter in the career of the Argentina captain.
The former Barcelona superstar has hit the ground running, playing several matches for the club in July and August and scoring plenty of goals already.
Off the field, he made a brief cameo at his official unveiling and has done a few postgame flash interviews — all in Spanish — but he has otherwise kept a low profile outside of a couple of trips to local restaurants that drew crowds.
The media is still waiting for Messi’s first formal press conference, and the chance to perhaps see him utter a few words in English.
Does Lionel Messi speak English?
Messi’s native language is obviously Spanish, with the Argentinian staunchly proud of his Rosario accent, despite spending many years in Spain.
During his time in Catalonia he also learned Catalan, with certain Barcelona teammates speaking it as their first language.
But there are very few public instances of Messi speaking in English. That situation appears to have changed during his time in France, with rumours of his level of English improving.
Previously, Messi claimed he was too nervous to answer questions in English, despite taking language lessons since 2020, as per an interview with journalist Guillem Balague.
“I’ve been learning English for a year and a half. I understand it, but I don’t speak it,” he said in 2021.
Messi’s English has improved, helped by English-speaking teammates and his wife Antonella Roccuzzo, who speaks it.
The most famous example of Messi being helped out with questions in English came via his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo in a Ballon d’Or awards ceremony.
The 35-year-old is likely to take it in stages in answering questions in English in Miami, but with a majority of English speakers in the Inter Miami squad, he could pick it up quickly.
Lionel Messi goals for Inter Miami
Messi has been lighting it up in the USA, carrying Inter Miami to the semifinals of the 2023 Leagues Cup tournament, which crowns the best club team across the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
Lionel Messi contract, salary at Inter Miami
Messi has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Miami, keeping him in the USA through the end of the 2025 season (October/November 2025).
There is also an option to extend for another 12 months after that if he wants to play in the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted across the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Details on Messi’s contract in Miami have trickled through and as per reports from the Miami Herald, Messi’s deal will be worth $125m-$150m (£100m-£120m) in total, which breaks down to around $4.1-$5m (£3.3m-£4m) per month.
Examples of Messi’s Inability to Speak English
To clearly show you that Lionel Messi can’t speak English, I want to share 3 situations I found where it is clear Messi doesn’t speak English.
The first example I discovered that shows Messi doesn’t understand English comes from an interview with Cristiano Ronaldo after the Ballon d’Or ceremony in January 2016.
After the ceremony, Ronaldo (who speaks fluent English) was asked about his experience and answered that during the ceremony, he had been acting as a translator for both Messi and Neymar, as neither of them understands English. He also joked that he told Messi and Neymar that they would have to pay him for the translation!
Messi’s lack of ability to speak English was also evident again at the Ballon d’Or in 2019.
During an interview with both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the interviewer began by speaking to Ronaldo in English. However, partway through, the interviewer attempts to bring Messi into the conversation, and there’s a moment where it is obvious Messi doesn’t understand, and both the interviewer and Ronaldo switch to speaking in Spanish so that Messi can understand what is being said.
Take a look at the video below to see the interview for yourself.
One more piece of evidence that Messi doesn’t speak English comes from a heart-warming story of an 11-year-old boy who spent part of his vacation playing soccer on the beach with Messi and his children.
In the summer of 2019, 11-year-old Mackenzie O’Neill bumped into Lionel Messi while on vacation in Antigua. After seeing Mackenzie kicking a soccer ball around on the beach near them, Messi invited Mackenzie to play soccer with him and his son Thiago.
Although he had a great time and an incredible experience, Mackenzie did mention when interviewed afterward that he didn’t receive any soccer advice from Messi because Messi “doesn’t speak English” and “Messi’s wife [Antonella] translated because she speaks English very well.”
As well as being another example of the fact that Messi doesn’t speak English, this story does show that Lionel Messi’s wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, speaks fluent English and can act as a translator for Messi when needed.
There is, however, a difference between speaking a language and understanding it. So, let’s look at the possibility that Messi understands English even if he doesn’t speak it.
Does Messi Understand English?
The English language is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and a large percentage of soccer players speak English, having spent time living in an English-speaking country or community.
Because of this, there are some people who say that even if Messi doesn’t speak English, he must understand some English as the use of the language is so widespread.
There are also people who believe he must understand English as they sometimes see him in interviews with English-speaking interviewers and he replies (in Spanish) to the questions the interviewer is asking.
However, the reality is that most of these videos are edited to look like Messi is replying straight away when he probably isn’t.
What is most likely happening is that the interviewer is asking the question, which is then translated for Messi to understand before he answers in Spanish. If the interviewer doesn’t understand Spanish then Messi’s answer will then probably be translated so the interviewer understands what he has just said.
Once the interview is over then, all this translation will be edited out of the video, and the public will only see a copy of the interview similar to the one above.
Because of the reality of the way these videos are edited, along with the examples I’ve shown above, you can see that Messi doesn’t speak or understand English and needs a translator to understand what is being said when English is being spoken.
It’s possible he understands commonly used words such as “hello” or “thanks,” and in this video below, he says that he does understand some English, but there’s no strong evidence that he understands English enough to be able to get by without a translator.
What Language Does Messi Speak?
Having established that Messi clearly can’t speak or understand English, you may be asking yourself: what language does Messi speak?
Having been born in Spanish-speaking Argentina and then moving to Spain, where he has lived ever since he was 13 years old, Messi speaks Spanish fluently and also understands Catalan.
In every interview you can find of Messi speaking, he speaks in Spanish. This should be no surprise for someone who has spent his entire life in Spanish-speaking countries. In fact, it would be more strange if he didn’t speak any Spanish!
Alongside Spanish, he also understands the Catalan language.
The city of Barcelona, where Messi has lived since the age of 13, is located in the region of Catalonia in Spain, and Catalonia is one of 3 regions in Spain where the Catalan language is spoken. It is even estimated that 50-60% of Barcelona’s total population speaks Catalan.
Examples of Messi Speaking Languages Other Than Spanish
While writing this article, I spent a lot of time searching for examples of Messi speaking in English, and I was unable to find a single one. This makes sense considering everything we’ve looked at so far.
I did, however, find a video that further demonstrates Messi’s reluctance to speak in English and reinforces the fact that he doesn’t speak English.
While on a trip to Egypt, Messi was asked by the host to say the words “I love Egypt” in English.
Despite the simple request, Messi declined the opportunity to say these words.
Have a look at this dialogue in the video below.
The only example I could find of Messi speaking a language other than Spanish was a commercial I came across of Messi attempting to speak Japanese. I don’t speak Japanese, so I am unable to tell you how well he did, but you can take a look below and see for yourself!
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