While Paris Saint-Germain look set to be the beneficiaries of Lionel Messi's emotional break-up with Barcelona, there is at least one other club out there still holding out hope of landing world football's most coveted free agent.
Mexican side Puebla have been playing the long game this summer in a valiant attempt to lure Messi to Liga MX with a campaign orchestrated on social media over the past few weeks.
Puebla are hoping their groundwork has now paved the way for the 34-year-old to make a shock move to the Cuauhtemoc Stadium, eschewing the bright lights of the Parc des Princes in the process.
The cheeky (and largely one-sided) dialogue began on June 30 when Puebla reached out to him directly as his contract at Camp Nou, the largest in all of sports, was about to expire.
"Hi Team Messi, I sent you a DM," the Puebla account tweeted. "We would love to work with you."
All was quiet for the next month or so until Aug. 5, the day Barcelona announced that Messi would indeed be leaving the club as they were unable to register his new contract with LaLiga while complying with the league's financial fair play rules.
Puebla leapt into action, sharing a supposed screenshot of the ensuing DM conversation between the two parties, which appears to show a response to their offer of a Zoom chat by sharing a link to a statement about his future posted on the Barcelona club website.
"Is this a yes?" Puebla asked, perhaps more in hope than expectation.
But, before Messi had even said his tearful farewell to Barca on Sunday, bringing his 21-year association with the Catalan club to an end, his staunch Mexican admirers had already launched one last desperate bid to snare their man. A replica home shirt with "Messi 10" on the back has appeared in the club's official online store.
The sashed kit is listed with a retail price of $1,599, although at the moment fans desperate to have the six-time Ballon d'Or's name on the back of their jersey can only add it to their "wish list" rather than place an order. Still, you've simply got to admire the effort that Puebla have put into their pursuit, skirting as close as they have to what they can legally get away with, but their interest is likely to remain unrequited.
Messi takes time to sign autographs after Barca farewell
Lionel Messi signs photos and shirts for fans after making his emotional goodbye to Barcelona.
Of course, it goes without saying that Barca fans are still reeling from news of Messi's imminent departure. Hundreds of people filled the streets around Camp Nou as their hero gave his goodbye news conference on Sunday, chanting Messi's name and surrounding his car as he left the stadium for the last time.
Video footage emerged at the weekend of fans still buying this season's jersey with Messi's name and number, days after it was announced he would be leaving.
And, as of Monday morning, any supporters who still wish to buy one last Messi souvenir (or are simply unable to let go) can rest assured that Barcelona are still selling this season's kit with "Messi 10" on the back via their online store, despite the fact the man himself will never wear it.
There is a disclaimer on Barca's online store to note that "names and numbers will not be final until the transfer market closes" and that the club "cannot be held liable for any changes that occur until shirt numbers for the upcoming 21/22 season are made official."
Still, given the dire financial situation that has led Barca to let their greatest-ever player leave, it's perhaps understandable they might need to wring every last cent out of him before he soon pitches up elsewhere.
Or, it could be a sign that there is still one more shocking twist in this saga to come, and somehow Barca will find a way to re-sign Messi in time for the new LaLiga season, which kicks off on Friday with Valencia vs. Getafe (stream LIVE at 3 p.m. on ESPN+ in the U.S.).