As unpalatable as the current situation with Lionel Messi at Barcelona may be, the Argentinian is not bigger than the club.
Yes, he is by far their greatest ever player and yes, the club owe him a monstrous debt of gratitude, but that’s where it ends.
The captain is an employee just like anyone else.President, Josep Maria Bartomeu may be many things, and the catastrophic situation the Blaugranes find themselves in at the moment is principally of his doing.
To that end, frankly, he only has himself to blame that the chickens are coming home to roost in the final year of his presidency.
However, he cannot allow himself or the club to be held to ransom by any player, whether that’s Messi or not.
What sort of message would this send out to others unhappy with the way in which the board conducts their business? Kick up as much fuss as you can and make life untenable? That’s really not the way to go about things.
Those with a keen eye will have seen this exact scenario coming for a while now, and so it won’t be too much of a surprise.
Messi’s body language against Bayern completely gave the game away and towards the end of that Champions League quarter final, you had a situation where the captain of his team was simply not trying.
Walking away from the areas of play after losing the ball. Standing still and watching his defence at sixes and sevens with no intent to assist in any way.
If that’s the attitude of someone who is supposed to be setting the example, then they don’t belong in the team anyhow.
Now we have the unedifying situation just two weeks before the new season begins where, potentially, Messi won’t return for pre-season training, throwing new coach, Ronald Koeman’s plans into chaos.
If, as seems clear no, that Messi does want to leave, then Barca are within their rights to stick to their guns and demand a best price for him.
They’ll be aware that he can absolutely leave for free in a year’s time, something he claims he should be allowed to do at this point, so if there is definitely no going back, then perhaps it’s also in Barca’s best interests to negotiate his exit now and at least get money in the back and, potentially, squad players added.
It’s not the way anyone would’ve envisaged this footballing marriage ending, and with divorces rarely amicable no one comes out a winner here.