In recent years, the hierarchy at Barcelona – and even some Culers – have taken Messi’s presence and what he does for the club for granted. Regardless of the marvellous performances and astronomical numbers he still produces, it doesn’t take Einstein to realize that the end is near. Messi is now 33-years-old and unfortunately, he’s only going to get older. But that doesn’t mean his appetite for glory and hunger for success is diminishing either. Despite the trophies he has won at Barcelona, people will still manage to criticise his recent failures in Europe. Even though that argument to depreciate Messi’s magnificent legacy is nonsensical, it matters to him.
Look, I’m not saying that Messi only cares about Champions League glory and his PR. Instead, I am saying that he cares for the image and development of Barcelona. For Messi, Barça have given him everything from day one and in return he has given them an incredible amount of success. All he wants now is for the club to have a plan and a winning project. However, as mentioned before, in recent years that has not been the case. The humiliations in Rome, Anfield, and now Lisbon, have painted Barcelona as a weak force. Barcelona have become a side which mediocre teams aren’t afraid of anymore. A side which lost twice after having a 3 goal lead in the first-leg. Moreover, a side which lost 8-2 on the biggest stage of world football. A side which has no real structure, system, or identity.
Who is the one to blame for all this mess?
Although players and coaches do deserve their share of the blame, the one in charge is responsible for it all. Bartomeu and his board are the culprits who are responsible for this beautiful club’s downfall. And now, they may also be responsible for the departure of the club’s greatest ever player, and even Messi, himself, knows it. Although, many will argue that these exit rumours don’t mean anything significant. That they always appear out of the blue when season-defining matches are lost. Like after the disappointing 2013/14 season and the embarrassing loss against Liverpool. But this season is entirely different from those and the stakes are much higher.
This is the club’s first trophyless season in 12 years. The 8-2 thrashing against Bayern was Barça’s biggest defeat in their club history on the European stage. And even though the 4-0 loss against Liverpool was still a humiliating one – considering the context – an 8-2 scoreline is incomparable. As mentioned earlier, Messi is ageing and his career’s end is nearing. Still, this board haven’t been able to efficiently utilise his finest years. Instead of building a winning team around Messi, filled with youth which will support and complement his qualities. Bartomeu has done the opposite. He has built a team which relies on Messi, through buying players of the wrong profile, with huge names and price-tags to act as if he has done work.
Messi’s response to the Barça Board/Hierarchy
Besides the failure of building a successful, promising sporting project, Bartomeu’s board room politics have also affected Messi’s recent decisions. This year we have seen a more outspoken Messi – one who hasn’t shied away from defending himself and his teammates. He has called out the board’s mismanagement and dirty backroom affairs on multiple occasions. From Abidal blaming the players for Valverde’s sacking to Bartomeu and his titellas portraying Messi as an antagonist, Messi has publicly addressed it all. Even though Bartomeu has now vowed to make huge changes by bringing in a new coach and kicking Abidal out of the club, Messi is still not satisfied. He knows where the root of the problem lies and that’s where his uncertainties rise from as well. Messi wants Bartomeu and his supporting cast gone.
During Koeman’s first press conference as a Barça manager, he was bombarded with questions regarding Messi’s continuity at the club. He did respond by saying that Messi is integral to his plan. That he’ll have to talk with him, in-person, to see how he feels. Knowing the importance of the situation, Koeman requested a face-to-face meeting with Messi to understand where his head’s at. The meeting was held this Thursday and according to multiple sources, varying from El País and Mundo Deportivo to RAC1. They all claim that Messi is upset and frustrated by the loss in Lisbon and the non-existent project which Bartomeu and co. have built. Moreover, the sources note that, at the moment, he sees himself more outside the club than inside.
The Argentine is more than aware that his chances to leave the club this summer are incredibly difficult. The clause which allowed him to leave for free this year expired a few months back. Moreover, he has a contract until the summer of 2021 with a hefty release clause of €700 million. Those factors along with the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the transfer market, make Messi’s supposed departure even harder. With that said, the Barça captain can also wait until the January transfer market to start negotiations with other clubs. Or he could just stay until next summer and leave the club for free if the new board fails to convince him.
Besides all the speculation, the bottom line is that Messi’s patience has run out. My personal take is that regardless of the conditions at the club, Messi doesn’t want to leave Barcelona. I believe that he is using his power at the club and his silence to influence the course of things. He’s staying silent to create uncertainty and mount pressure on Bartomeu to resign or call the elections in November. If Bartomeu doesn’t make more compelling changes immediately or if Messi isn’t convinced with the new Barça President’s project, Messi’s time at Barcelona could easily come to a bitter end. And all I can say, as of now, is that you follow us on twitter @Barca_Buzz to stay tuned for more news. #VisçaBarça and #BartomeuOut!