For the best part of 15 years now, Lionel Messi has wowed fans of FC Barcelona.
Even as a young 17-year-old, the Argentinian had the ability to get supporters off of their seats with consummate ease.
As soon as he’d made his debut in the first team, there was never any doubt that he would go on to become a world star, but that’s been almost as much of a curse as it’s been a blessing.Even now, he is still looked to by his team-mates to provide the inspiration or moment of magic to dig his side out of a hole.
For all intents and purposes, he is a solutions man. And by and large he delivers the goods when required.
The term ‘Messidependence’ was coined to illustrate just how much the team rely on their star player.
It’s clearly a responsibility that he enjoys and a succession of coaches have been more than happy to give it to him.
However, because of a lack of understanding with Antoine Griezmann at present, questions are again being asked as to whether Messi is actually part of Barcelona’s problem when things are not going so well, rather than the solution.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic identified many years ago that whatever Messi wants, Messi gets, and for players such as the Swede that can be problematic.
In his case, he was probably never the right fit for the club in any event, but both Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho before him haven’t shown their true worth at Barca.
That could be attributed to the club doing everything possible to accommodate Messi in whichever role he feels is best.
Clearly, neither the Frenchman or the Brazilian are comfortable being stationed out on the left wing, and whilst adaptation to a system is often required of the modern footballer, sometimes putting a square peg into a round hole just isn’t going to work.
There’s no suggestion that Messi should be dropped of course, but it’s worth considering his influence in the context of the team dynamic.
It’s without question that he has been a major factor in a number of honours won over the last decade, but does there come a point when a coach has to be brave enough to say ‘it’s time for change’?
In the meantime, and with the way the Catalans are playing at the moment, it might be worth looking at things again with a fresh pair of eyes.