Over the years, several young talents have been likened to Lionel Messi, the record eight-time Ballon d’Or holder. From his debut for Barcelona at the age of 17 to his current stint with the MLS club Inter Miami, no other player comes close to emulating his extraordinary legacy.
After his World Cup heroics last year in Qatar, Messi completed his trophy cabinet, which had been missing the only silverware—the World Cup. Interestingly, there’s a young stunt double of the Inter Miami star making a name for himself at the FIFA U17 World Cup, named Valentino Acuna.
Who is Lionel Messi’s young stunt double Valentino Acuna?
Valentino Andrés Acuña, born in 2006 in Rosario, Argentina, plays as an attacking midfielder for Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys Jugend youth team—a club in the Argentina Primera División, the country’s first division. Besides sharing the birthplace, position, and boyhood club with Lionel Messi, the 17-year-old player has something more in common.
In 2014, a documentary/drama film was released based on the life of the former Barcelona star number ten, showcasing his journey from Rosario to La Masia to winning multiple World’s Best Player awards. This documentary featured his teammates, coaches, and journalists discussing his achievements and journey.
In this film, Valentino Acuna played the role of young Messi in filming dribbling scenes, as his dazzling left foot skills and dribbling qualities resembled the younger self of the Argentine icon. Similar to Messi, Acuna is also from Rosario and plays for Newell’s Old Boys Club academy.
Even though the U-17 Argentina international hasn’t made any appearances for the club’s senior team, his promising performance at the Youth World Cup has amazed Argentine football enthusiasts, as he is expected to undoubtedly emerge as one of the top talents in the world in the upcoming years.
Valentino Acuna scored goal at FIFA U-17 World Cup
Valentina Acuna, after being cast as a young Messi for his exceptional qualities, could partner with his hero Lionel Messi, who hinted at participating in the 2026 World Cup. However, for the U-17 sensation, the road is still far from easy as he has yet to earn a call-up from La Albiceleste’s senior national team.
The Newell’s academy midfielder scored with a left-footed finish in a 3-1 victory against the Japan U-17 side during a Group D fixture at the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup in Indonesia on Tuesday. This marked their first win in the campaign, placing them in second position on the Group D table. Next, they will face Poland U-17.
Fans will be looking out for Valentino Acuna as he makes his way into professional football while proving himself for his national team.