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Messi at Barca. Will he stay or will he go?

Messi at Barca. Will he stay or will he go?

Wed, Aug 26, 20

Messi at Barca. Will he stay or will he go?

Strap yourselves in. The biggest transfer of all time could be on the cards, or will it? We will run you through the Lionel Messi transfer saga which is a long way from simple and straightforward. This is about as complicated as it gets.

Make no mistake: if Lionel Messi does indeed leave Barcelona, the club he has spent two decades at winning everything in his path, playing some of the best football we’ve ever seen at a club that has been a perfect marriage from the outside looking in – it will be the biggest deal in the history of sport, let alone football. It does not get bigger than this. It can’t get any bigger if you, like us, consider him to be the greatest player the game has ever seen. Don’t @ us with any CR7 is better chat. If you watch football – you know Messi is from another planet. Best finisher, best passer, best at free kicks, the list goes on. Anything in an attacking sense the little master is beyond exceptional. What’s most intriguing about all this is that this isn’t the end of the road for Messi as well. This isn’t a potential move to the United States or Qatar. He is still the best player in the world.

While this season has been an utter shambles from top to bottom at one of the world’s biggest clubs, Messi still put up numbers only few can with 44 goals in 31 games in all competitions. While the goals may have been down, his assists skyrocketed to 26, his highest tally since the 2014/15 season (29 in all competitions) which shows he has had to adapt his game now he's older to try and bring the best out of his teammates who, quite simply, aren’t up to his standards anymore; especially this season under Quique Setién who never managed to convince and was thus shown the door after the spectacular loss to Bayern. A travesty for anyone associated with the proud Catalan club, and a result that showed just how the mighty had fallen.

A little Googling can give you some insights on just how badly things have got for Barcelona in terms of how they are run from the top. The wage bill at the club is simply staggering – with a clear indication that strategic planning hasn’t been right for some time when you look at other clubs like Bayern Munich and Liverpool producing sustained success spending a fraction of what Barcelona have because of meticulous data research, deliberation and shrewd investment.

Look at the Antoine Griezmann deal for instance. He’s on an alleged £795,000 per week and looks a shadow of his former self not being played in the correct role most of the time, with a manager who didn’t know how to get the best out of him. Take that enormous sum and then look at similar eye watering numbers for the likes of Luis Suarez (£405,000), Sergio Busquests (£260,000), Ivan Rakitic (£230,000) just to name a few – and those few have been named purposely because they are all past 30, absolutely past their best but are still contracted and in a COVID environment, meaning they are almost impossible to move, even when the club want them to.

Sergio Busquests as an example is a fantastic player, there’s no doubt about that, but at 32 it’s clear to see he’s slowing down in the middle of the park. With a contract until 2023 how are Barcelona supposed to get rid of him and get younger, more mobile players around Frenkie de Jong in midfield? There’s examples like this throughout the club - which is important because Messi knows that Barcelona cannot spend the money they need to fix glaring problems in this side. He doesn’t have the time left in his career to sit through this transition that could take years.

The next point is the coach. Ronald Koeman is not an inspired signing. Not at all. Which takes us to another layer of complications – the Barcelona board with an election coming up in a years time. Josep Bartomeu is seemingly hated by Messi and other players, just look at Suarez’s recent anger towards him feeling like the president wants him out of the club without having the cojones to speak with him about it. Suarez has also as recently as this morning thrown his support on Twitter behind Carles Puyol’s tweet saying he was in support of Messi’s decision. What a mess.

 

 

Bartomeu is on the outs it seems and the man who will likely replace him at the next election, Victor Font, will bring Xavi back to the club as head coach. This is probably why the likes of Mauricio Pochettino didn’t end up going near the Barcelona job because what’s the point on taking it with a new president seemingly imminent and a much publicised plan to bring in Xavi as the next manager when he wins the election in place. All very convoluted isn’t it, which also adds fuel to Messi’s thought process. Where exactly is the club going? And what exactly does the 2020/21 season look like under Koeman who deep down, probably doesn’t even feel secure at all?

Manchester City, PSG and Inter have all been clubs touted as a potential suitor for Messi. The problem is, none of them seemingly could be able to spend the 700 million euros to get Messi out of Barcelona now that the agreement has past in June where Messi could leave for free. It’s a part of Messi’s contract that everyone has been aware of for some time, always signing 1-year extensions perhaps with one eye on a situation like this occurring. There is a suggestion coming from Messi’s camp that they could look at a clause that would extend that free transfer period, but that’s not something Barcelona are going to be keen on, is it? Things are going to get very interesting, and most likely very litigious, very soon.

A club like Inter Milan might be able to offer a player like Lautaro Martínez, linked to Barca for some time, as part of a deal, but they will still need to figure out where to find a LOT of cash. Man City have only just scraped their way out of a FFP battle – can they really go and blow this kind of money on Messi and get away with it? The Milan link is a curious one given Messi’s father has just purchased a property in Milan, but the consensus is the buy was to take advantage of the lower tax rates in Italy. Something the Messi camp have been battling with in Spain for years.

Things get really curious when you consider the options for Barcelona. With Messi on this rolling style contract, there seemingly wasn’t ever going to be a point in time where they would make money from a transfer fee for him. Do they find themselves in a position now where they somehow come to an agreement where the 700 million euro sum is scrapped and they find themselves negotiating a much more realistic price with the likes of Man City? Given the friction between Messi and Barcelona, could these headlines have been from Barcelona camp pushing the “he wants to leave” narrative hard so it seems like it’s his fault for leaving? Protecting those at the club who would remain present when the messiah left? The current board and president can’t afford to lose him from a popularity point of view, but at the same time there’s an awful lot that needs fixing and cleaning up at the club for years to come – so in some ways it could make sense for Barcelona as well. Cashing in as much as they can on a player fans will not accept leaving the club.

You can look at this deal in so many ways and still be left with a lot of questions. At 33, it seems from the latest headlines that Messi has looked at this squad and is of the opinion he’s better suited to go elsewhere to try and win another Champions League and league titles rather that sit through a rebuild. With the 2020/21 European seasons only weeks away, this is going to be a wild ride.

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