What Languages Does Lionel Messi Speak?

Not many people can claim to be the best in the world at what they do, sometimes they may be acknowledged as great, or even at the peak of their profession, basking in the knowledge that they have achieved everything they dreamed of. 

Even fewer are acknowledged as the best of all time, you could be the best around today, but what about 20 years ago? Perhaps there was a giant in that field that you simply can’t surpass. 

And then there is Lionel Messi, the diminutive Argentine soccer genius, destroyer of teams, breaker of records. The greatest player ever to stride onto a soccer field. The pinnacle of sporting prowess, listing his achievements would take all day, understanding how he got them could take a lifetime. 

Messi has redefined just what it means to be the greatest player of all time and is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon. His grasp of the language of soccer is immaculate, his accent impeccable, his pronunciation is perfect. 

But what about the other languages Lionel Messi speaks? How fluent is the greatest player around today at speaking, is he as articulate in English, Spanish, or French as he is on a soccer field? What languages does Messi even speak? Let’s find out. 

LanguageMessi’s Speaking Skills
SpanishFluent
FrenchBad
EnglishBad

Does Messi Speak Spanish Like a Native? 

Having spent the majority of his illustrious career at the Catalan giants FC Barcelona, it’s a fair question to ask, or would be if you didn’t know Spanish is the native language of Argentina. 

Born in Rosario in Argentina on the 24th of June 1987, Messi remained in his home country until moving to Spain at the age of 13, and as his native language was Spanish, Messi was able to seamlessly understand the language in his new home. 

Moving at such a young age, even with his family making the journey with him, was difficult, so it is understandable why the Messi family would choose a country where they would be able to at least speak the language immediately. 

Naturally shy and introverted, Messi’s teammates initially thought he was mute, such was his quiet nature, but he soon integrated himself into the squad of fellow upcoming stars. Coming from Argentina, speaking Spanish certainly helped him acclimatize quickly. 

Throughout his career, in TV interviews, post-match press conferences, and in his dealings with fans, Messi has always conversed in Spanish.

Regardless of what country he has been interviewed in he has, unlike Cristiano Ronaldo who is able to reply in English, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese kept to the use of a single language in front of the cameras. 

There was one small problem, however, while Spanish is quite obviously the native language in Spain, as well as Messi’s home nation, Barcelona is actually a part of Catalonia, a region of Spain that borders France and Andorra. The prevalent language spoken in Catalonia is Catalan, an entirely different kettle of fish to Spanish. 

Catalan Is Not Spanish 

There are roughly 9 million Catalan speakers on the planet, and Lionel Messi counts himself as one of them. It’s not French, and it’s not Spanish, and while it has similarities to both languages, has a very different flavor to it. 

Having been in Catalonia from the age of 13, and playing alongside native Catalonians at Barcelona, Messi can converse and understand the Catalan language well. 

While never speaking it in public, and sticking to Spanish during interviews, Messi and many of the Barcelona team conversed in Catalan in training and during matches.

It could even be argued that many players speaking a language that the opposition does not speak may have the added tactical advantage of the players being able to direct each other during games without being understood. 

As with most languages, the earlier you are exposed to them the quicker you become fluent in them, and having family from the Catalonia region allowed Lionel to get to grips with Catalan at an early age, with a fluency almost on a par with his native Spanish. 

Can Messi Speak French?

Towards the end of his Barcelona career, Messi and his wife began taking French lessons, in part, it seems due to his assumption that his contract was up and he would be able to move on a free transfer. 

Unfortunately for Messi, Barcelona was set against this and argued that his contract was not in fact up, and forced him to stay another year at the club.

The subsequent Covid pandemic completely crippled Barcelona financially, and by the 2021 season had had to release him on a free transfer as the club spiraled out of control. The French lessons Lionel and his wife had been taking proved to be very forward-thinking, as he then joined Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital. 

Moving to the Parc Des Princes stadium to ply his trade has allowed Messi to continue to play at the highest level, and he seems to be integrating himself well within his new team. 

Luckily for him, he does have teammates around him from his time in Spain, such as Neymar and Sergio Ramos, so he can also speak Spanish, but has been working hard on gaining an understanding of French too. 

Given that he is only 34 years old, it is not unreasonable to assume that Messi could have another few years at the top level, and may well spend that in France, which will see his command of the language increase the longer he is there. 

Can Messi Speak English?

Having never played in England, or any other country that has English as their first language, Messi has never really needed to become fluent in English. 

It is said that Lionel Messi has a bare understanding of English and does understand a few phrases, but given the very small chance at this stage in his career of a move to the Premier League, it is doubtful his fluency will improve. 

Overall it looks like Lionel Messi has invested himself a great deal more into his soccer skills than he has in learning other languages, but given the huge bulk of his career has been spent in a country that speaks his native language, who can blame him? 

His fluency in Catalonian shows he could learn other languages, and had it not been for the Covid Pandemic there would have been every chance that Messi would have played out his career at Barcelona. 

We should just be thankful that whatever language he speaks, his soccer voice remains as strong as ever.

Here’s a video of Lionel Messi talking about learning English (He actually studies English!)


Also Read: What Languages Does Cristiano Ronaldo Speak?

Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired at the age of 21 due to injuries - which led me into a new career as a soccer coach.

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