One hundred twenty-nine men disappeared forever on the ice. In the year 1845, two British navy ships set sail for the Arctic to explore the Northwest Passage, a sea route connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific through northern Canada. Nobody came back. That tragedy, known as "Franklin's lost expedition" nourished books, songs and series such as The Terror. One of the scenes captures the essence of that epic and terrifying journey. After months stranded on the ice, Captain Francis Crozier, in command after Franklin's death, lets an assistant mend a loose thread on his shirt when the latter reminds him that he did not choose the liquor for dinner.
"Is there something special you want?" he asks.
Captain Crozier responds with desperate irony.
"More open water to the Pacific to go home."
— We are close, try to encourage the assistant.
Crozier scrambles around like a black mamba.
— Be careful with the word close —rebuts the captain—; close is nothing. It's worse than nothing. It's worse than anything in the world.
Messi was close to returning to Barça this week. Six months after winning his dream World Cup and being crowned the best again, after two gray years of spoiled PSG stands, the Argentine had the option of returning to the club of his life and saying goodbye to his fans. At 36 years old but still with football in his boots. Despite this, he decided to retire from high competition football.
The distance between the two decisions is so enormous that it is hard to digest: on the one hand, to return home, to the place where your people have been chanting for you since you left, to try one last dance in elite football, and on the other, to say enough is enough. Bye bye. Was over.
Messi still didn't know it, but he left football the day he lifted the World Cup. That afternoon of unleashed Argentine joy –also thousands of culés–, on the 10th he noticed on his shoulders the fatigue of the most beautiful career in football, the weight of so much criticism, and he decided to leave.
The Argentine used sad reasons this week to justify his decision to go to Miami to surround himself with millions, confetti and be the star of the fifth sport in the United States. He got out soon: he did not trust Laporta, he did not want to wait any longer or feel responsible for salary cuts or the departure of colleagues. As if Barça were not its fans and not its president, as if love were not the greatest reason for waiting in history —after the elevator in this holy house— or football was not a farewell. Who really wants something, looks for reasons; Who doesn't find excuses.
Messi has been the greatest and he will no longer return because he wanted to rest. His return to Barça was close. There is no worse pain. Close is nothing. It's worse than nothing. It's worse than anything in the world.