With regard to Lionel Messi’s future, it could be a crucial week ahead, with the Argentinean star still claiming to seriously consider his position in Barcelona.
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Since his side’s humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich, the rumor mill has gone into overdrive, with some reports claiming it has convinced the six-time Ballon d’Or winner that after 16 glorious years at the Nou Camp the time has come to seek a new challenge.
But while the Bayern result may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, Messi’s unhappiness at the club seems to have built up for a number of reasons over the last year or so.
Mundo Deportivo, a Barcelona-based publication, has highlighted five key factors which they believe have contributed to the Catalan giants’ disillusionment with the star.
First, the club’s failure to re-sign Messi’s former teammate Neymar last summer despite strong rumors the PSG is said to have upset him with a dramatic return to the Nou Camp, with Messi forming a lethal partnership with the Brazilian during his Barcelona time.
Instead in a big-money move from Atletico Madrid, they splashed the cash on French international Antoine Griezmann. However, things have not worked out so far for the player and his relationship with Messi both on and off the pitch has yet to spark.
Messi was also believed to oppose the January sacking of former manager Ernesto Valverde.
The team was in poor shape but Messi had a good relationship with the coach and felt convinced that he could turn it around.
Valverde’s dismissal led to a criticism of the players’ effort by sporting director Eric Abidal in an interview with Sport, in which he said that ‘many players were not satisfied or working hard’ under Valverde – apparently suggesting it was their fault that he got the sack in January.
In an extraordinary move, Messi-who is not exactly known for his outspoken demeanor-took Instagram the next day to slam Abidal for his comments, saying: “The people in the sporting directorate should also assume their responsibility and, above all, take ownership of the decisions they make.
Quique Setien, Valverde’s successor, never managed to connect with Messi in the same manner as his predecessor, yet another factor that upsets him.
And finally, Messi was also unhappy with the way Barcelona handled the behind-the-scenes coronavirus pandemic and wrote an open letter on Instagram criticizing the club for not acting faster to help players find a solution before they eventually took a 70% pay cut.
With all these incidents added together, it may be unsurprising that Messi is seriously considering leaving the club he’s spent his entire career.
New boss Ronald Koeman is doing everything he can to try to persuade him to stay, with his contract not expiring until the end of next season.
But seeing Messi move on this summer wouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
The big question would then be: Where is he going next? Pep Guardiola, over to you.