What would represent success for Barcelona in 2020/21?

Barcelona are still a week and a half away from the start of their La Liga campaign, thanks to their Champions League exploits.

Beginning their 2020/21 season behind everyone else will already put them at a slight disadvantage, but if Ronald Koeman can have his side firing from the get-go, then there’s no reason why they can’t close the gap quickly.

In any event, what would represent success for the Catalans this season? Continue reading

Are there any winners from the Messi situation?

It was one of the darkest periods in FC Barcelona’s recent history.

When Lionel Messi gave notice, via an official burofax, that he wanted to leave the club, it signalled a huge changing of the guard at the club.

He has since had the opportunity to clarify why he had taken such a decision, and it won’t sit well with many of the clubs supporters.

The fact that he was particularly scathing about president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, will have irked as much of the fan base as it will have delighted. Continue reading

PSG considered Messi move

Paris Saint-Germain considered making a move for Lionel Messi, admitted sporting director Leonardo.

The Argentine star sent a fax to Barcelona last Tuesday stating that he wanted to exercise a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to leave on a free transfer this summer.

Speaking to French outlet Telefoot, Leonardo admitted that the 2019-20 Champions League finalists explored the opportunity to signing the six-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.

The former Brazilian international compared it to the capture of David Beckham in 2013, saying:

“When we are told Messi wants to leave, we are tempted. You say to yourself, will it be f***ing possible? They are players completely out of any discussion.

“I don’t know, David Beckham ended up at Paris Saint-Germain, Messi ending up in Paris? I don’t know.

“It’s football, in the end, everyone’s sitting at the table, everyone knows everything, and it’s moving forward.”

However, Barcelona insisted that Lionel Messi’s €700 million (£630m) release clause would have to be met by any potential suitor and the player swiftly made a u-turn on his decision to stay with the Spanish giants for at least another season.

Continue reading

Barcelona Mark 2- what to expect from Messi and the new signings this season

A terrible season without silverware followed a nasty August for Barcelona when the best player to ever play for them told the club he was leaving. Lionel Messi was THIS close to joining Manchester City, but he will stay with the club at least for one more season.

The change of heart is not, at this time, because of the love of the club but more to do with the fact that he doesn’t want to be dragged through the courts and possibly miss up to half a season as he career free falls into someone’s laptop. Instead he has made the U-turn, and Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief. So of course will new coach Ronald Koeman who may well have been resigned to losing the Argentine a few weeks ago.

Many have said that the era of Barcelona is over, underlined even with Messi in the side when they were destroyed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Ivan Rakitic has rejoined Sevilla and Luis Suarez looks set to join either Juventus or PSG, either way Koeman has made it known that Suarez is not part of his plans. So it is all change at Barcelona, even with Messi staying, there is a new standing point for the player, who has mostly kept quiet, but his feelings are known now and he is demanding the best from the players on the pitch and the board on their leather seats.

Barcelona have been active in the transfer market and with Messi staying for now this is a boost to the club who have brought in some interesting players. The eye-catching transfer is Miralem Pjanic who comes from Juventus for 60m euros. Barca actually sold Arthur to Juventus for 72m euros, so that is almost like a swap deal.

Koeman has really identified the problem in Barcelona to be of the midfield and along with Pjanic has brought in Francisco Trincao from Braga for 31m euros. Pedri from Las Palmas who will probably see a lot of the bench is in the team for around 5m euros and Matheus Fernandes cost the club 7m euros from Palmeiras.

Also it is widely expected that another midfielder will be brought in that is Memphis Depay from Lyon. Depay had a good last season and has started well in Ligue 1 this season also. He has been tipped to join Barcelona for some time and it is understood that Lyon will not stop the player.

So for Barcelona at this moment it is all about fixing the midfield, maybe accusations of their demise have been exaggerated but then maybe they haven’t. Barcelona have been unlucky in recruitment in recent years, they have certainly splashed the cash only to see the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Phillipe Coutinho and Antonio Griezmann all come up empty. Can their luck change, Messi for one will be hoping so.

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Messi could stay at Barcelona, but is he the problem?

The transfer saga of Lionel Messi may just likely end up as a war of words and nothing else. Messi’s father held talks with the Barcelona board yesterday evening and there were some mixed reports. But some sources confirmed that Messi’s father is optimistic that Messi will make a U-turn and actually stay with the club.

In truth there are only 2 teams that look likely being the right fit for Messi, one is Barcelona and the other is Premier League side Manchester City, mostly because of the Pep Guardiola factor. However there is no guarantee that Guardiola will be at City for the next years ahead, he is entering his 5th season with the club which is a record for him, and this will be likely his final season in Manchester.

Also if you want to know the latest mutterings it makes sense to follow the bookmakers instincts. Last week City were the favourites to sign Messi and could be backed at 1.91 (10/11) to get their main. They are now the 2nd favourites and out to 3.00 (2/1). They have been replaced by Barcelona who are now big odds on at 1.30 (1/3) to keep Messi. That could tell us everything we need to know.

If Messi stays many people especially the fans of Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief, he is so ingrained into the city, they know they will lose him one day, but no real Barcelona fan wants to lose him like this.

However here’s a thought, is Messi the actual problem at Barcelona? By problem that is not fully blaming him for everything, that would be churlish, and he has been the main reason why Barcelona have been one of the best teams in world football over the past decade. But has Messi simply grown to be such a star that he is stifling other players from growing.

Take out Messi right now from the team and Barcelona do not have higher level world stars in the team. They have very good players, players that on their day look the best in the world, but could it not be argued that the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Phillpe Coutinho could grow into their roles more if Messi was not there?

Messi is indispensable of course, but at the same time with no Messi in the team Barcelona would find another way of playing. And despite how brilliant he has been for the club, over the past few seasons it has become noticeable that he has stopped chasing back once he has lost possession of the ball. A hunger has left him, although that could be his personal protest of how the club are being run.

A team without Messi would be interesting and at the same time personally for Messi to be playing in a different league would benefit him surely. The fire seems to have left him, imagine having that reignited. And at 33 his best years are fading fast, that is the nature of the game, he perhaps has 2 very good seasons left in him at the very top. Would it not make sense to leave now?

Change is needed at Barcelona if Messi is to see any more silverware if he decides to stay. The club have spent close to £1 billion in the past 5 years. Big clubs spend big, but that money was being spent to win Champions Leagues, it did bring one for the club in that time but a club the size of Barcelona demand more, much more. That is how high the bar is at the club.

It will be very interesting in some ways if Messi does stay with Ronald Koeman in charge, at least if Messi stays with the league kicking off soon it will give the club a purpose in the early stages of the new season.

La Liga kicks off on September 12th, although Barcelona have been granted extra rest after their participating in last months Champions League. The club will play on the 12th but this will be a friendly match. Their first game of the season will take place on September 27th at home to Villarreal.

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Ivan Rakitic leaves Barcelona with his head high

After the 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich, there were always going to be casualties, and not just on the coaching side.

The result was so cataclysmic for the Catalans, that if a root and branch clear out wasn’t necessary, then something approaching it probably was.

Barca’s lowest ebb of this millennium needed strong decisions to finally be made, no matter what. Continue reading

Where will Messi likely end up?

In football and perhaps even outside football, 25 August 2020 will be remembered as the day Lionel Messi sent a request to Barcelona to release him so he can move to another club. His career has so far stretched over 16 years, with Messi winning 34 trophies and scoring 634 goals.

Obviously, Messi is a player considered by many to be the best in the world. His desire to leave comes against the backdrop of a humiliating 8-2 defeat at the hands of eventual Champions League winners Bayern Munich.

As the magnitude of his request continues to sink in the world of football, only a handful of clubs have a chance of securing the services of the Argentine wizard.

Clubs likely to sign Messi

The English Premier League has a strong following across the world with Messi also
known to be a close follower. This is further helped given that two of his closest friends,
Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Aguero have enjoyed great success from their exploits in
England. It is also believed that Messi spoke with Manchester City’s boss Pep Guardiola before submitting his transfer request. It should also not be lost that the key Manchester City boardroom staff of Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, also worked with Guardiola when he was coaching Messi at Barcelona.

Manchester City also stands as one of the few teams with the financial muscle to meet Messi’s salary demands. However, City may face serious competition from their neighbors, Manchester United, who are also believed to have the financial clout to seal
a move for the Argentine. While Liverpool’s boss Jurgen Klopp already ruled out a move, Arsenal and Chelsea have yet to give a response though it is highly unlikely Messi would join either of the London clubs.

Outside England, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) may tempt Messi to link up with long-time friend Neymar as they attempt to get their hands on that elusive Champions League Trophy. Other suitors that have been mentioned as possible destination include Italian champions Juventus who happen to have Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad! If you fancy your chances and want to bet where Messi might end up, look at various betting reviews like this Swedish betting site for legitimate options.

Heading home or staying put?

Messi has always said he hopes to end his playing career back in Argentina with his
boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys. However, security concerns are a major issue, particularly given the superstar has three young children attending school. Messi also believes that he still has something to give, and thus he sees the need to put the move back home on hold and instead continue to play in an elite league for a bit longer.

A possible scenario is that he may yet end up staying at Barcelona if his conditions are met and if he is convinced by the club’s hierarchy that they will try their best to create a strong and competitive side. Messi and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu currently have a strained relationship, which has been raised by more than one source as one of
the reasons why he wants to leave. A major hurdle that may prevent the Argentinian from leaving is the legal battles likely to come up. Messi had a contract that would have allowed him to leave for free in June this year.

However, some in Barcelona believe that the clause has expired, leaving Messi under contract until 2021. Any effort to take him away from Barcelona would have to be met with a 700 million buy-out clause, which obviously would be a world record.

Will he stay, or will he go?

Ivan Rakitic the latest to leave the Barcelona sinking ship

Ivan Rakitic has left Barcelona to rejoin Sevilla, and the fact he has gone back to Sevilla should speak volumes.

Some followers of Barcelona would like to play down Rakitic’s move as no more than a 32 year old who played six seasons with Barcelona simply moving on. But the timing and choosing of his new club is critical.

Lionel Messi has dominated the football news with his stunning transfer request which is in reality taking a stand at how the club has been run over the past 3 seasons. Now of Barcelona’s best midfielders over the same period of time Rakitic has left. True Rakitic was getting on in age, but he is a quality player that still had a few more seasons in him. The fact he has decided to go back to Sevilla where he enjoyed success and much less pressure says a lot. He will be returning back to the club, one suspects with a wide smile plastered over his face.

Rakitic scored 36 goals in all competitions for the club, but that was never why he was brought into the team. He commanded the midfield and set up well with Sergio Busquets after Xavi and then Andreas Iniesta left the club. Rakitic was the perfect fit and helped Barcelona win 13 trophies including 4 league titles and the Champions League which they won in 2015 and remains the last time the club has won it.

This is the season which is expected to be a big clear out for the club. Arda Turan finally left on a free transfer to join Galatasarey after a miserable time at the Nou Camp. Arthur joined Juventus for 72m euros although Barcelona didn’t really ‘see’ that money given that they then gave Juventus 60m euros for Miralem Pjanic.

Others players that are heading for a likely exit are Arturo Vidal who had a poor campaign and hasn’t really kicked on since his debut season with the club. Luis Suarez is almost certain to leave as new coach Ronald Koeman doesn’t see the former Liverpool striker in his plans. Suarez could leave for either PSG or Juventus. In fairness this is a deal that could be good for both player and club, it is obvious that Suarez has lost a few yards, and maybe just needs a fresh challenge.

There is upheaval at Barcelona, a new beginning that there can be little doubt. The club will splash the cash this summer make no mistake, but they have made many of those over the past few seasons, there seems like there is no room for error especially if they can convince Messi to stay.

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Lionel Messi is not bigger than FC Barcelona

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. Continue reading

If Messi does leave Barcelona it could take 10 years for them to recover

The ownership power struggle at Barcelona has been in decline for the past 3 years. It is why since 2017 Lionel Messi has had it in his contract that in principle at the end of each season he could leave for free.

That was a threat from Messi- a player considered by many as one of the greatest players to have graced the game. It was supposed to be a warning sign to the Barcelona board to step up and manage the team properly. Since then despite being dominant in Spain,

Barcelona have failed at the highest level- the Champions League. Each of the last 3 years they have been in good positions to win it. Think of the collapse against Roma and Liverpool. Messi has not won the Champions League since 2015 when he was 28. His prime years are disappearing and he may not win it again.

This week it was still a shock to find out that Messi had handed in a transfer request to a club where he was supposed to spend the rest of his career with. But in all honesty it wasn’t a surprise.

Barcelona have been run into the ground over the past few seasons. Some of the board have quit and Josep Maria Bartomeu has made some uneasy decisions. He has been criticised for the way Neymar joined PSG, something that Messi seemingly has never forgiven him for. Then there is the way that the Neymar money was ‘wasted’. Players such as Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho cost £250m between them, and both have been poor.

Messi expected Barca to replace the departing Neymar with other star players yet instead the club got stuck with one player who is injury prone and another who was moved on loan to Bayern Munich. Messi probably assumed that at least from the massive fee earned from selling Neymar, Barca would be able to sign at least two quality players and perhaps two decent players as a bonus. If you are a fan of casinos, then do not forget to check exclusive Casino bonuses in Canada.

On the other side under Bartomeu the club have won 13 trophies in just 5 seasons, that includes 4 La Liga titles and a Champions League. But the problems have really been growing for the past 3 seasons especially. The hiring of Quique Setien, a good man but out of his depth at Barca was met with disdain, the 8-2 bashing that Barca took against Bayern Munich with no plan a let alone a plan b summarised Setien’s season, one where Barcelona ended trophy less.

He was eventually sacked and Ronald Koeman was named the new coach. The same Koeman whose career has been steadily declining in club football. True he was doing well with the Netherlands and got them to the UEFA Nations League final, and they were set to participate in next summers Euro’s. Ironically it looked like Koeman had found his stage with the national team. Club football is different, and if you fail with Everton you may be out of your depth with the egos at Barcelona. It feels as if Koeman was given the job to soothe the Barca fans, after all he is fondly remembered here for his time at the club in the early to mid 1990s.

Luis Suarez has been reportedly told that he won’t play for Barcelona again, this has further angered Messi, although that could be a good decision for the club, Suarez clearly has lost some of his devastating pace.

Things are changing at the club and it feels like a new era is around the corner. Even for Bartomeu that could be true given that the new elections are next March, and there will be a new president at the club.

So is Messi playing a bluff? Did he hand in the request for Bartomeu to walk now? After all which president of the club wants to be known as the guy who sunk the ship so low that Messi begged to leave.  As it stands Bartomeu is going nowhere and neither is Messi. The problem is that Messi believed he could leave for free but that expired at the end of May. However Messi’s argument and it is a good one is that his get out of the club free expires at the end of each season. Because of the pandemic the curtain on the season last only came down 4 days ago. Maybe just maybe he has a point.

This is going to be high drama either way you look at it and most transfer windows in Europe will be open until the beginning of October, so this could run and run. Barca want 700m euros for a 33 year old, it doesn’t matter if Messi was 10x better than he is and aged 18 that wouldn’t be happening.

There are many consequences here and even though the club has handled affairs over the past few seasons poorly it also does not seem fair on them with La Liga starting soon that Messi would deliver this bombshell and want to leave for free. There are remember rumours circulating that Messi has a say on who will join the club and who will play with him. Did he have too much power himself? Is he really full of anger because the club could not prize back Neymar from PSG? One wonders if both parties and not just the club are at fault on this one.

If Messi leaves and with so much change revolving around the club it would surely be an end of an era for the Catalan giants. One could rule out trophies for next season especially against a well-oiled machine like Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will want to bounce back from an indifferent season also.

One is reminded of the early 2000s when Barcelona were genuinely suffering after Rivaldo left the club and they were struggling in La Liga. It took the club 5 years to bounce back then.But this is Messi who can guide a club, just look at this season, they won nothing and yet there he was again, aged 33 and still top goalscorer in Spain with ease.

Messi’s influence should not be underestimated and yet like so many other world class players before him it looks increasingly like he is going to leave the club by the back door. He will be remembered as one of the greats and Barcelona simply won’t be the same without him on that field. It really could take the club some time to recover perhaps 10 years before they get a great team together once again who can also gel.

What you have to remember with Barcelona is that finishing 2nd to them is like finishing 10th, what does it matter if you don’t win trophies and if a club like them go 3 seasons without winning the league it really is a crisis. If Messi leaves and the structure of the club falls apart because of it the recovery time could be a long way off.

As for Messi the favourites to sign him are Manchester City. That would make sense, with Pep Guardiola there and the way the club play such an attacking style and of course Messi could fit right into the vacant David Silva role. They look the favourites to get him or perhaps PSG who at least put their marker down this year by reaching the Champions League final.

Let the drama unfold.

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