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Being one of the best soccer (football) players that has ever played the game, Lionel Messi is a pretty major icon around the world. Hailing from Argentina and playing the majority of his career in Barcelona, he predominantly speaks Spanish, but with him now moving to Paris St Germain, and having played with people from all over the world, what languages does Messi speak?
What Languages Does Messi speak?
Messi only actually speaks two languages fluently and they might not be the languages that you think. Obviously, his first language is Spanish – it’s the language of his home, Argentina and he played in the Spanish La Liga for 16 years.
You might think that due to his recent move, the other language might be French, or that because he’s on the world stage, his second language is English, but both guesses would be wrong.
In fact, the other language that Messi speaks is Catalan, a language spoken in the East of Spain that sounds like sort of a hybrid between French and Spanish.
How Many Languages Does Messi Speak Then?
So in all, Messi speaks two languages fluently: Spanish and Catalan.
Other than that, Messi does not speak any other languages fluently. While he may be able to manage some phrases or greetings in other languages for press or gameday reasons, he is not listed as speaking these languages at a native level.
Does Messi Speak English?
Despite having to deal with the worldwide press on a nearly daily basis, Messi does not speak English fluently and really only knows a few phrases.
Spending the majority of his life in Spanish-speaking countries, either speaking in Spanish or Catalan to Spanish language media, the need hasn’t really been there.
He even explains in this super short interview that he is learning English but doesn’t speak it:
It’s not surprising, that Spanish is the fourth most popular language in the world after English, Mandarin, and Hindi. Spanish is spoken broadly across the world and is the second language of many, including in the US, so it’s pretty easy for Messi to get by.
That and the fact that most clubs have on-staff interpreters for the players.
With teams being more and more international, you can’t be expected to learn every single language to communicate with your teammates, so you either learn the language of the club, or you can use translators to help build those bonds and explain plays.
What is Catalan?
Although as we’ve said, Catalan sounds like half French, half Spanish, it doesn’t come from either, it actually comes straight from Latin.
Catalan can be found as the primary language in a few Spanish regions, Catalonia, which includes cities like Barcelona, Girona, and Tarragona, the Valencian Community, and the Balearic Islands including the party hub of Ibiza.
It’s also the language of the mountain country of Andorra, which straddles France and Spain in the Pyrenees Mountains. So, in actual fact, it’s spoken by quite a large proportion of Spanish and Andorran people, as the region encompasses so many major cities.
If you’ve ever been to any of these places, you’ve likely seen two languages on signage, including on public transport, one in Catalan and one in Spanish.
This is not uncommon in bilingual communities, especially where the primary language isn’t popular outside of that region.
Another example is the Welsh road signs in Wales – there is still English on them as it’s a more dominant language, but technically in a lot of Welsh counties, the Welsh language is still the first language.
Why Does Messi Speak Catalan?
Despite growing up in Rosario in Argentina, Messi left for a trial at FC Barcelona when he was just 13. Part of the agreement of him being allowed to go was that he’d stay with family nearby, who spoke Catalan.
So, from a fairly young age, Messi was exposed to the language and began to learn it fluently. Being in an area that actively spoke Catalan alongside Spanish meant that he was hearing and using it on a daily basis, so Messi quickly became fluent.
Although it may seem like a niche language, if you’re living in one of the Catalan-speaking regions, that’s going to be what you hear all the time, so it’s definitely useful to learn.
It also has a proud heritage, with the Catalonian Province voting overwhelmingly in favor of independence in 2017. You probably saw a lot about it on the news as the Spanish Government deemed the vote illegal and it led to a lot of rioting and protests all around the region.
During the height of this tension, Messi actually shared a video of his son, Matteo, singing an old traditional Catalan nursery rhyme.
As you can expect, it got a bit of a mixed response but shows that Messi ensured that his children could also speak Catalan growing up, keeping this unique and proud language alive for another generation.
What Languages does Lionel Messi speak?
Well, if you are a Messi fan, you might already know the answer to this question. Argentina’s Rosario is where Lionel Messi was born. His native tongue was Spanish, as it is the official language of Argentina and a few other South American nations.
The Argentines found it quite convenient to relocate to a place where language barriers did not exist. Barcelona served as the superstar’s home for more than 20 years. He thus did not need to learn any additional languages. Messi has always spoken Spanish in interviews on TV, press conferences following games and interactions with fans.
Contrary to Cristiano Ronaldo, who can respond to questions in English, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, Messi has consistently used a single language in front of the cameras. His Catalan also received some serious brushing up, as Barcelona is a Catalan-speaking city.
Is Catalan just like Spanish?
For those who don’t know, Barcelona is a part of Catalonia, a part of Spain that shares a border with France and Andorra. Spanish is not completely comparable to Catalan, which is the primary language in the region. Some stats suggest that more than 9 million people speak Catalan. Yes, there are many similarities between the languages, but Catalan is neither French nor Spanish.
Messi can communicate and understand Catalan well because he has lived in Catalonia since he was 13 and played with the locals in Barcelona. Having family in the Catalonia region allowed Lionel to become fluent in Catalan at a young age, almost on par with his native Spanish. It was also observed that Messi and many of Barcelona’s team members used to speak Catalan during the practice sessions, yet they never did so while giving interviews to the media.
How good is Messi at speaking English?
One of the greatest of all time, Lionel Messi, has been the subject of rumors in recent years regarding his ability to speak English. The Argentine superstar has previously said that he does not need to learn English because he can communicate with his teammates, and most of them speak Spanish. However, Messi at least has a basic understanding of the English language given his international prominence. He also spent most of his career in Barcelona which has a huge international fan base.
Messi frequently appeared in public but didn’t seem to enjoy speaking English. His Ballon d’Or press conferences and responses are almost exclusively in Spanish. In one of his interviews, the star told everyone the reason for not speaking English. Messi occasionally needed assistance from other people to understand the questions if they were in English.
Even his wife Antonella Roccuzzo, who can speak and understand English, occasionally assisted him. In some instances, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is quite fluent in the language assisted his counterpart in understanding the questions. So, it would be safe to say that Messi cannot speak English.
Does Messi speak French?
Messi signed a contract with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in 2021, but he is still unable to communicate in the language. According to rumors, Messi and his wife started taking French classes before moving to PSG. As he is always under the spotlight, the news of him learning French went viral, and everyone fixed their eyes on the Argentine superstar. Despite this, he is still unable to speak French. Given that Messi is only 34 years old, it is reasonable to assume that he could play at the highest level for a few more years. He may well do so in France, where his proficiency in the language will improve the longer he stays there.
What language does Lionel Messi speak in his new club PSG?
As he can’t speak French, you must be wondering how he communicates in PSG. According to many sources, Messi speaks Spanish in the club. Messi has received assistance from several Spanish-speaking players during his time at Paris Saint-Germain, including Kylian Mbappé.
The most widely used languages at Paris Saint-Germain are Spanish, Portuguese, English, and on occasion even Italian. It is assumed that Neymar, Angel Di Maria, and Keylor Navas are not native French speakers.
Contrary to what people might think, Ousmane Dembele is a fluent Spanish speaker. Kylian Mbappe is a natural at picking up new languages; he is fluent in French and Spanish. One of the languages used is English as well.
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