Iconic image of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing chess looks like Photoshop

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo pictured together for a Louis Vuitton campaign ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
(Image credit: Twitter (@Annie Leibovitz))

An iconic image of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing chess took social media by storm on the eve of the World Cup on Saturday night – but the photograph may not be all it appears.

The picture was taken by American portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz for a Louis Vuitton advert, but behind-the-scenes footage appears to show that Messi and Ronaldo were not together in the same room for the shoot.

In a video posted by Louis Vuitton on their social channels but later deleted, Leibovitz can be seen photographing both Messi and Ronaldo separately.

At no point are the greats together in the same, which means Photoshop or an alternative programme is likely to have been used to complete the iconic image – unless Louis Vuitton are planning another big reveal later in the tournament.

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In the video, Messi and Ronaldo speak of their proudest moments as international footballers ahead of what will be a fifth World Cup for both players.

"The most memorable victory for me was winning the recognition of the Argentine people," Messi says.

And Ronaldo adds: "When I won the first title for [the] Portugal national team."

The photograph is on course to be the most 'liked' image of all time on Instagram, with Ronaldo's post already having received in excess of 30 million likes.

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Weekend editor

Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.