Messi statue cut in half as vandals destroy tribute to Barcelona superstar

The tribute to the Barcelona No. 10 had been standing for less than a year before it was mutilated, and the Buenos Aires government has vowed to restore the monument

A statue of Argentina captain Lionel Messi has been destroyed by unidentified vandals in Buenos Aires. 

The tribute to the Barcelona star was unveiled during 2016 by city mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, during the campaign to convince Messi to reverse his international retirement following the Copa America final defeat. 

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But the sculpture, located on the banks of the Rio de la Plata as part of a 'Glory Walkway' honouring Argentine sports stars, was cut in half in unclear circumstances. 

"The statue of Lionel Messi fell victim to an act of vandalism that left the footballer's sculpture without its top half," a statement from the Buenos Aires city government read.

"The City Government is now working on its repair." 

As well as Messi, field hockey legend Luciana Aymar, tennis stars Gabriela Sabatini and Guillermo Vilas, San Antonio Spurs idol Manu Ginóbili and ex-Formula One champion Juan Manuel Fangio also have likenesses on the Walkway.