Monday, 09/08/2021 18:18

The Local Game: Choose Việt Nam, Leo

The Local Game: Choose Việt Nam, Leo

Peter Cowan

Dear Leo Messi, I wrote you but you still ain’t calling, I left my cell, my pager and my burofax at the bottom.

I know it seems like you’ve got your heart set on a move to Paris Saint-Germain after being forced to leave your beloved Barcelona, but why not think a bit bigger?

Moving from one superclub to another doesn’t take much imagination, but what about something off the wall? You’re already a legend in Barcelona, why not follow in Diego Maradona’s footsteps and become a god somewhere else?

Diego became a deity for a city, but you could do it for an entire country: Việt Nam.

You might think Barcelona fans adore you now, but that’s nothing compared to the affection Vietnamese fans would show you. Remember, a man here once ran 8km just to get a glimpse of an Arsenal team that included Nicklas Bendtner, so imagine what kind of devotion the world’s greatest player would inspire.

Alright, the V.League 1’s standard of football may be a touch lower than La Liga, but at least you’ll still be making seven figures per week (which Barcelona can’t offer) and if you’re lucky, perhaps more than a billion per month.

Perhaps I’ve been too vague so far and after all, Việt Nam is a big country, so let’s figure out which is the right team for you.

If you’re worried about missing some home comforts, perhaps Hà Nội is the right choice, as Los Fuegos - Argentinian Steak and Grill can serve you up some truly mouthwatering Argentine asado. Or if Spanish food is what you’re missing, as after all you’ve spent much more of your life in Spain than Argentina, the capital has more than a few tapas joints.

I hope you’re still up for a challenge in your old age though, as if you sign for Hà Nội FC you’ll have to do quite well to outperform your compatriot Gonzalo Marronkle, who won three titles with the club and was the league’s top scorer in 2013.

If you want to work with someone that has European experience, perhaps Thanh Hóa is the club for you. Their coach Ljupko Petrović won the European Cup with Red Star Belgrade in 1991, so you’ll at least have that in common. He also reportedly took a voluntary pay cut recently to help his club out just like you offered for Barcelona, so you’re both charitable types.

HCM City has a couple of clubs that could pique your interest. For one, Sài Gòn FC have Argentinean striker Gastón Merlo on their books, so you should have no problem striking up a deadly partnership. Merlo is still banging in the goals at the age of 36, so perhaps he could give you some tips on longevity as let’s face it, you’re not getting any younger.

Sài Gòn’s local rivals HCM City FC are also an intriguing option, as their manager Mano Pölking hails from Brazil. While your two countries have a footballing rivalry there’s still a healthy respect there that I think would help you two work together well. I’m sure you wouldn’t get tired of reminding him that it was your country that came out on top in the Copa America last month.

Mull it over Leo, but as you can see, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a Vietnamese club. So do the right thing, shun the oil money and choose Việt Nam. VNS

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