There was seismic shock on Sunday evening when news broke that Lionel Messi was seriously considering his future at Barcelona.
Although there have been occasions – such as his tax trial – where the suggestion of him leaving has reared its ugly head, never before has it come to a point where the option of him actually going has truly existed.
After the 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich, all that has changed.The Argentinian only has a year left on his current contract in any event, and he has made no attempts to sign a renewal to that deal.
What that means is that from January 2021, he would be free to negotiate with other clubs and would leave Barcelona next summer for free.
If fans of the Catalan club are angry at the moment, imagine the uproar should that scenario come into play.
There’s a very real possibility of it happening too. The reason? Josep Maria Bartomeu.
For a while now, the likes of Messi, Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez have made veiled threats in the media which clearly show their contempt for Bartomeu and his board.
The most obvious of those was when sporting director, Eric Abidal, was taken to task by Messi over social media because of a comment the Frenchman had made.
The 2019/20 season has been nothing short of a disaster, and it comes hot on the heels of the pain of defeats to Liverpool and Roma in previous seasons.
In short, Messi’s final years are being wasted, in stark contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo’s final years at Real Madrid.
The recruitment at Barca has been preposterously bad, with three players costing over €100m not doing anywhere near enough to justify the outlay.
One of them, Philippe Coutinho, even had the audacity to score against his parent club in the Champions League hammering v Bayern.
If Bartomeu were to do the decent thing and resign, allowing club presidential elections to be brought forward by a year, then there’s little doubt that Messi will see out his career at the Camp Nou.
However, if he decides to stay on for the final year of his mandate and the Blaugranes have much the same problems next season as they’ve had in the current campaign, then something that everyone thought impossible to this point may well become a reality.