Just seven months ago Lionel Messi was a burofax away from leaving Barcelona.
That one piece of paper was the Argentinian’s ticket out of the club he’d served man and boy, but whose love for it had waned after one too many lies from club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Though Manchester City were suspected as being as a potential destination, no formal offer was ever made, and that remains the case to the present day.Since that fateful August day, things have changed significantly at the club, both on and off the pitch.
After their worst start in years, Barcelona now have the longest unbeaten record in the top five European leagues.
Not only that, but they’re into the Copa del Rey final after an astonishing run, and are playing some of their best football in years.
Ronald Koeman, much maligned at the start of his tenure, now appears to have the confidence of the senior players in the squad, but perhaps more importantly he has brought through a number of talented youngsters from La Masia.
Not since Joan Laporta’s first tenure as president have Barca had so many players from their youth academy getting regular first-team minutes.
To add some icing on the cake, Laporta has been voted back in as president as if in some way to complete the circle.
Everything, somehow, is falling into place.
Even if the Catalans don’t go on and win the cup or the league title which they remain in with a shout for, the turnaround in fortunes has been a success in itself. Silverware won’t change that.
There are three major things that remain to be solved. One immediate, one medium term and one longer-term.
The longer-term issue could be sorted by Laporta refinancing the club’s debt in order to give them some breathing space.
The medium term issue is getting the Espai Barca project finished, and the new Camp Nou sorted, with naming rights.
Of more immediate concern is getting Lionel Messi to sign on the dotted line for at least another couple of seasons.
All the while he doesn’t court the attentions of Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona will hold out hope that he will stay in situ.
He may still decide to leave and the club will have to deal with the fall out if he ultimately does decide to quit.
However, there are reasons for optimism that weren’t there last summer.