In the second leg of the Copa del Rey against Celta Vigo, the Camp Nou witnessed an something that supporters haven’t been used to seeing for a long time: Messi leaving the field of play because of the coach’s decision before the hour mark.
He was replaced in the 59th minute by Ousmane Dembele, and the last time Messi left the pitch that early was on September 29, 2007 in the Ciutat de Valencia against Levante – 302 games ago.
On that occasion, Barcelona were already leading 4-0 and the Argentine had scored the fourth.
Immediately afterwards, Rijkaard decided to replace him with Gio dos Santos.
Since then, Messi has been replaced on the odd occasion before the 60th minute, but always because of an ailment or injury.