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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