“Mes que un club” they say, whatever that means. Everything at the Blaugrana seems to be falling apart as their captain and talisman is intent on cutting ties with the project. Lionel Messi is said to be frustrated by the lack of a winning project Josep Bartomeu is leading.
The president has come under scrutiny for his inability to put a competitive team together since his first year as president. Sandro Rosell had laid the blueprint for that first year even but he would have to resign after allegations of unscrupulous dealings during the Neymar Jr transfer (a case which Bartomeu himself was heavily involved in as he is set to stand trial).
Bartomeu who had been his vice-president would succeed him and in the first year of his reign, Barcelona clinched the treble under Luis Enrique. In fact, in his 6 seasons as Barcelona president, they have only missed out on the La Liga title twice. It is in the UEFA Champions League that their problem lies.
In the 15/16 season, they would go out in the quarter-finals thanks to Diego Simeone’s dogged Atletico Madrid but they clinched a domestic double plus the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup so there wasn’t much to be angry about. In the 16/17 season, they crashed out to a Juventus seeking revenge for the final of 2015 and the tension began to build. For 3 seasons, they watched on as their rivals Real Madrid lifted the Champions League title under Zinedine Zidane. The Roma debacle in 2017/2018 would dampen a domestic double for Ernesto Valverde.
In the 18/19 season, they would crash out astonishingly to eventual winners Liverpool and lose out on the Copa del Rey to Valencia. After Valverde was sacked midway through the 19/20 campaign despite brilliantly using his tactics to cover for an aging, depleting squad, Quique Setien was hired. The heralded, humble student of Johan Cryuff who would take the Catalan club back to its incipient ideals had arrived.
Despite not having the players for this sort of football or the necessary experience, he trudged on. He would lead them to a trumping at the hands of Bayern Munich, a game which made glaring the fact that Setien did not belong to this level. A more humiliating defeat than the double-legged 7-0 defeat suffered from the same team in the 12/13 season (Bayern went on to win the Champions League in both seasons). From the transfers to the overall conduct of the club in recent times, it has not shown the level of performance needed to win a Champions League and Messi wants out.
Messi Wants To Win
Messi is very ambitious, quiet, and reserved but ambitious. Along the years of rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, he was been painted as the humble, self-effacing mute who just looks forward to the next game while CR7 is the hardworking ambitious one with the drive for success. This is not true as he has shown that he is feisty and competitive with a deep desire to win. Ask the La Liga commentators and they will tell you not to anger Messi as your team could pay dearly for it. This desire to win has led him to become one of the best footballers in history and it is pushing him towards an exit. Messi would love to clinch the big ears at least one more time before he hangs up his golden boots. It is no surprise that he is looking towards one of the most single-minded projects in football now. Pep Guardiola and his search for Champions League glory with Manchester City. Pep Guardiola on the pitch heads what is a very clear and dogged mission which is to bring the UEFA Champions League trophy to Manchester City.
To win big, you have to spend big and Manchester City has spent big. Over half a billion pounds has gone into bringing the players they need under Pep. Yet the 19/20 season saw City fall short at the quarter-final to newfound boogey team Lyon. Guardiola went into overthink mode and lined up with a back three to match up to Rudi Garcia’s team shape but it backfired. The change of shape brought an incohesion, a disorder to the known establishments of their play. If there is anyone that can give a team that final boost, that dose of luck needed to win a title like this, it is Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi at 33 continues to astonish, pulling out trick after trick to save Barcelona’s face. He feels the project at City is one that can be beneficial to a mutual goal and there is no reason why not. Riyad Mahrez, Ferran Torres, and Bernardo Silva are great players in their own rights, but they are no Lionel Messi. This collaboration looks like a last chance for European glory for the Argentine but it is just the matter of his boyhood club that stands in the way.
Bartomeu remains firm and resolute, refusing to step aside. Messi too has shown his desire, refusing to show up for the club’s coronavirus testing on Sunday. He rests his decision to leave on a clause in his contract that allows him to move for free at the end of the 19/20 season while Barcelona and the ever meddling La Liga claim that the clause expires in June and whichever team must purchase him must do it by paying his full release clause which is publicly known to be seven hundred million euros (700,000,000).
Nobody plans on paying that but Messi wants to leave. Hopefully, this is resolved well and fast without damning complications. The fact that Barcelona have been caught pant down in a situation like this lends credence to Messi’s desires. Messi is ambitious and wants a project that matches his ambition. He does not see that happening under the current administration and a few other players do not look like they see it too.
Barcelona can either let Messi go or risk ruining their relationship with the greatest player in their history. Bartomeu who has hired a firm to spread deceitful propaganda about his own players is more than capable of going very low when negotiation comes around. Will he be allowed to destroy what feels like a lifelong marriage during its divorce proceedings? Will he consider staying one more season? What a show we have on our hands.