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?
Let’s find out.
What Languages Does Messi Speak?
Messi only actually speaks two languages fluently and they might not be the languages that you think. 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.
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How Many Languages Does Messi Speak Then?
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.
Take this free quiz to find out what your level is in Spanish on the CEFR scale (from A1 to C2!).
Check out my best posts for learning Spanish:
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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.
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What is Catalan?
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, 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, 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 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.
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Start learning a language today by checking out some of my favorite language-learning resources:
Drops is a very casual vocabulary-building app that will have your word bank stacked up in no time!
Memrise is also one of my favorites, especially if you want to build up your vocab super quickly using flashcards.
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It’s powered by AI and I only wish they also had Italian ’cause it’s the only thing that has convinced me to study grammar.
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Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.