Speaking of managers, there is one that got the best out of Messi more than any other. We’re talking of course about Pep Guardiola. Furthermore, Manchester City is one of the few clubs in world soccer that could afford to pay Messi’s astronomical wages.
But Messi and Guardiola genuinely have a great relationship. If they could link up in the Premier League, it would be one of the most stunning turns of events in the history of soccer. The current global situation makes this unlikely but it is definitely an appealing and fascinating prospect.
There’s no doubt that Messi has also contrived this as a way to demonstrate his power to Barcelona officials. Firstly, the reaction of fans angrily protesting at Camp Nou proves this. If the club allows their star to leave then they will face a revolt. In sum, it’s that simple.
Many people believe that he will stay but it will make Josep Bartomeu’s position untenable. Messi has a fractious relationship with the Barcelona president. This is because the club has deteriorated under Bartomeu’s lack of strong leadership. It looks like Bartomeu is on his last legs.
There will be a turnover of players this summer. New blood will come in with just seven players guaranteed of their futures at the club. Messi is one of these alongside goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Griezmann. But the idea of another transitional period doesn’t appeal to the Argentinian at all.
Transitions and success usually don’t come together. Furthermore, there is such a toxic atmosphere at the club right now that Messi has just had enough and wants to move on. The financial implications of a Messi transfer will likely mean that he stays in Barcelona but that may also damage the club.
First and foremost, Messi is a competitor. The Argentinian is also a realist. He knows that he is close to the end of his career. While he is definitely an elite star, it is true that his pace is not what it once was. That’s why he’s desperate to play for a competitive team and ideally one that he doesn’t have to carry.
At the end of the day, every soccer star wants to win trophies. When you’re an elite star like Messi, you specifically want Champion’s League titles and Ballon d’Or recognition. But if your team is struggling then it’s less likely that you’ll be able to compete for those honors.
Clearly there is a divide between the board of directors and the playing staff. Bartomeu’s position looks increasingly untenable and will undoubtedly be a casualty when the new elections come around. Furthermore, this is not a new problem as recent history proves.
The club approached their legendary former midfielder Xavi to take the manager’s chair. However, he turned the club down because he wasn’t comfortable with the direction it was going. Meanwhile, another former star, Eric Abidal, damaged his reputation during his poor reign as the technical director. Nobody is happy.
Messi will also have an eye on his biggest rival. Cristiano Ronaldo is thriving in Italy with Juventus after leaving Real Madrid. While the Turin side also fell woefully short in their pursuit of the Champion’s League, Ronaldo did win back-to-back Serie A titles.
Furthermore, Inter Milan are ready to swoop for Messi if he leaves for free. Messi would relish the challenge of hoisting Inter back to the top of the Italian league and overcoming his Portuguese nemesis again. It would be quite the story even if the chances of it happening are low.
If – and it is a big if – Messi can walk away for nothing, then his options are very exciting. Firstly, there is Manchester City and Pep Guardiola. We’ve spoken about Inter Milan but Paris Saint-Germain’s financial power also makes them a realistic option.
Meanwhile, Messi spoke before about his interest in playing for David Beckham’s Inter Miami franchise. Finally, there’s the romantic option of returning to his native Rosario with Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina. It may be too early for the latter clubs but it’s very fun to speculate.
Messi knows that the next two seasons could define his legacy. The World Cup is fast approaching and it’s his last chance to win a senior honor with his nation. Furthermore, he will want to make the most of his remaining peak years at a club level. But that may not be with Barcelona.
He has already won the most Ballon d’Or trophies in the history of the award. However, he looks increasingly unlikely to add to that because of Barcelona’s stagnation. Only time will tell where he ends up. Messi does not want to settle for being second best.
Years of mismanagement have eroded Barcelona’s status as one of the strongest clubs in world soccer. Their transfer record over the past four years is nothing short of abysmal. PSG forced them to sell Neymar so they panicked and threw $150 million at Liverpool for Coutinho.
They then proceeded to send their record signing on loan to Bayern Munich after a poor season. Of course, Coutinho scored two goals in Munich’s crushing 8-2 win over Barcelona. Furthermore, they now have to pay Liverpool over $5 million because the transfer had a Champion’s League winning clause. Simply appalling.
Few players are under as much pressure as Messi. He is Barcelona’s main man through and through. Nobody else in the squad is capable of producing the same moments of genius. But carrying a team for so long will take its toll on the Argentinian. In sum, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he had enough.
Furthermore, some analysts have suggested Messi is a problem for Barcelona. Often other players pass to him instead of taking another better option. It’s clear that the two parties have a complicated relationship. All good things come to an end.
There is a sense that it’s too late for all parties now to step back. Everybody has played their hands and nobody wants to look weak. However, it’s 2020, and player power has never been stronger. You get the feeling that Messi will get whatever he wants in the end.
The big question is does he actually want to leave? If so, then it will be difficult to keep him because of the dominance he has over the locker room. But even if his intentions are political, he will still win the battle. At the end of the day, the fans care about Messi, not suits.
Finally, Messi has nothing left to prove in Barcelona. Yes, the team should have been more competitive in Europe over the past few years. But he helped inspire them to a golden era of soccer. During his greatest years under Pep Guardiola, they were a true powerhouse.
If he leaves, fans are unlikely to react badly. At least not in his direction. The man is a living legend and it’s almost impossible to envisage him in another team’s shirt. But that may well be the case. However, he has given Barcelona countless incredible moments.