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850+ appearances. 700 goals. 290+ assists. 6 Ballon d’Or. 4 Champions Leagues. One Lionel Messi.
Messi has dominated the world stage since his arrival 16 years ago and continues to outperform and outshine everyone. A Barcelona legend who will be talked about for decades and centuries to come. Always being there when his team needs a miracle, and providing the crucial assist or goal to see Barcelona win, it is apparent that Messi is Barcelona. But now with the roles reversed, Messi is not getting any favors in return.
With the recent news that Messi has halted contract negotiations post 2021, fans around the world suspect that the superstar may be set to leave Barcelona. But this is not the first incident to agitate Barcelona fans. Since Messi replied to Barcelona’s board of directors, Eric Abidal, and his tweets in early February, tension has risen drastically, causing concern among fans and teammates.
Although widely known that Messi holds the most authority at the club, he has never shown just what he could do. That is until he lashed out at Abidal’s tweets. Abidal stated, “lots of players were not satisfied [with Valverde] and nor did they work a lot.” He also added, “There was also an issue of internal communication. The relationship manager-dressing room has always been good but there are things, as a former player, I can smell.” Abidal’s comments stung Messi, who has been the glue for Barcelona the past few years.
Abidal was a former teammate of Messi, and the two shared the pitch for 7 years, but that has not caused Messi to show any compassion. Messi immediately responded to the criticism on his Instagram account, outright denying that the players had any involvement in the sacking of Valverde. Messi even calls out Abidal, in stating that “names should be given because, if not, we are all being dirtied and it feeds comments that are made and are not true.” Messi’s lashing out at the sporting director led to speculation that Abidal would be fired, and board elections would be moved up. Nothing of any such manner has happened yet, but Messi is continuing to be at the forefront of the present dilemma.
Due to Messi’s comments, a clause in Messi’s contract was brought to the attention of fans once again. The clause stated that Messi could leave for free at the end of the summer.
However, to the delight of the fans, the clause expired on May 30, meaning Messi will be staying for the upcoming season as well. Furthermore, with his current contract expiring in the summer of 2021 and Messi denying to continue contract negotiations, rumors have started to fly.
According to insider reports, Messi is displeased by several factors, all contributing to the present predicament. Messi who had earlier told famed Spanish newspaper, Mundo Deportivo, that he does not believe in the current team to lift the Champions League, is another cause for concern. He also added comments on the club’s transfer business and his displeasure that the club could not sign former Barcelona player Neymar Jr. last summer. He also expressed his concerns at the club not signing a striker in the winter transfer window or signing long-awaited Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez.
The club president, Josep Bartomeu, is facing backlash from the media and supporters, for not being able to handle the situation in a organizing matter. Another factor of Messi’s contract withdrawal is the leaks and rumors from inside the board to the media. However, in a recent statement by Bartomeu, he believes Messi will “end his career” at the Camp Nou, a sliver of hope for Barcelona fans.
Although it is very unclear as to what the near future holds for Messi, Barcelona, and its supporters, pundits and agents are already eyeing a possible Ronaldo-Messi double at Juventus. Though this may seem like a far-fetched theory, Messi who has played at Barcelona his whole career, and aging, does not seem to have too many choices. Earlier rumors also had Messi being partnered up with Guardiola at Manchester City, but that died down quickly after no comments were made by either party.
Though, no soccer fan wants to see Messi leave Barcelona – maybe besides Madridistas – his departure should not be surprising considering the ongoing feud with sporting director Eric Abidal and club president Josep Bartomeu. May the odds be Barcelona’s favor.
Image: FC Barcelona Noticias (News)