Norwegian third-division team IK Junkeren signed Lionel Mesi on Thursday.
Just not that Lionel Messi.
This Messi is a 16-year-old who changed his name in honor of his idol over the summer. Under Norwegian law, children can legally change their name without parental consent once they reach 16.
“I’ve had a plan for a while to change my name, so I have Lionel Messi as my biggest idol,” the younger Messi told Norwegian newspaper VG. “With my dedication to football, it was nothing more than to try.”
Born Daniel Are Knutsen, the attacker says he models his game after his namesake. He prides himself on ball handling and speed, and the name change is no joke — people call him Lionel or Leo regularly now.
The younger Messi hopes to make it up to to Junkeren's first team, but that's a ways away. According to Goal.com, Junkeren has been in the third tier since winning the fourth division in 2010.
Adding a “Lionel Messi” is quite the gimmick for the club based in the northern municipality of Bodø. And it may not be long before they add another famous name.
“I joked earlier that we have to look for Cristiano Ronaldo,” Junkeren general manager Runar Bo Eriksen said. “We know that there is a Ronaldo in the transition market who has previously played at Fauske/Sprint, so we know he is out there.”
As for the original Lionel Messi, he is close to making his debut with Barcelona after missing the club's opening match with a calf injury. He is not rumored to be considering a move to Norway.
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