Barcelona upheaval continues with Lionel Messi's exit speculations
Messi’s transfer speculations seem almost inconceivable considering that the Barca superstar has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou, yet the evidence is starting to look foreboding.
Barcelona confirmed that the Argentine sent a document expressing his desire to leave. Messi has a release clause of €700 ($825) million. Additionally, there is a clause within the contract that allows him to leave the club for free at the end of each season.
Nonetheless, Barcelona dispute that claim, with reports suggesting the clause expired earlier in the summer.
With ongoing debates over the legitimacy of the reported clause in his deal, it is likely that there will be no quick outcome.
While Barcelona stars, including Luis Suarez, arrived for Covid-19 testing ahead of the new season, Messi did not show up for Barcelona’s preseason coronavirus testing.
Messi’s decision not to turn up implies that he will not be available for pre-season training at the Nou Camp, fueling his recent exit speculations.
Messi would probably be the most expensive player in the transfer market history should he leave FC Barcelona.
He joined Barcelona aged 10, and made his first team debut aged 17 in October 2004, and has since scored 634 goals, winning ten league titles, four Champions Leagues, and six Ballons d'Or.
The followings are some of the reasons why Barcelona upheaval continues amid Messi's exit speculations:
Although the club bosses have made huge mistakes in the transfer market, some other reasons might have been involved.
Worst signings ever
Barcelona may just be the worst football club in the world when it comes to transfers. For a club that can seemingly lure any superstar in the world to the Camp Nou, they are expected to be better than what they are.
Since 2014, the La Liga giants have spent a staggering £940m on a whole host of flops.
The club has almost wasted £535m looking for a third forward to join Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Finally, the Messi-Suarez tandem would have a third leg to push them to bigger and better things.
Then there was the signing of Ajax forward De Jong, which meant to help propel the Barcelona midfield into the 2020s. However, both have failed to replicate their form from their former clubs.
After the catastrophic end to the season with the 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich, both manager Quique Setien and sporting director Eric Abidal were fired.
Ronald Koeman was named as Quique Setien’s replacement on a two-year deal. But the 57-year-old new boss announced that he only wants Messi ‘if he maintains level.’
He is the third man to take charge this calendar year, with Setien having only succeeded Ernesto Valverde in January.
“He’s still got a contract and is still a Barcelona player. At this point I need to speak to him because he is the captain.
“We need to work with him and speak with various players. We need to make some decisions but in Messi’s case I hope he stays with us.
“I don’t know if I have to convince Messi (to stay), whether it’s that or not. He is the best player in the world and the best player in the world you want in your team, you don’t want him playing against you.
“As a coach I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. If he’s at the ability and level he has always shown I’d be more than happy for him to stay.”
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Is Messi Barca’s problem?
In general, every time Barca is struggling, there is the rumor, “Messi is leaving” everywhere. But, this time it seems that Messi’s transfer is looking increasingly likely as the biggest transfer ever in football.
Messi has always had a significant influence on the club; although, it is not clear what the privileges Messi received.
But how much power does Messi really hold at Barcelona? According to many analysts, Messi has had more power at Barcelona than the coaches they appointed.
"Messi has unspoken veto power over most player transfers, coach appointments, or major tactical decision," a club insider revealed.
As an example, Messi was said to be driving the pursuit of his £198million ex-strike-partner Neymar from PSG.
Neymar spent four years at Barcelona with Messi, who was believed to be pressing for the PSG superstar to return. The last time Barcelona won the treble, they had that 'MSN' upfront.
Messi had told Barca, "If you want me to sign a new contract, first renew Neymar.” Before they sit down to negotiate, he wanted the front line to be reinforced with Neymar. Neymar was also pushing for a return to Camp Nou, having regretted the decision to leave.
“Messi is believed not to be a stroppy player people have portrayed him as such falsely but when he sneezes, Barcelona catches a cold,” Spanish football expert, Graham Hunter, said.
However, Messi dismissed the claims that he is the main man behind Barcelona's decisions on the transfer market.
Messi reminded that although there are similar rumors about him at Argentina national team, the club and the national team have their opinion on how things should be run and he has his own. “Sometimes these opinions differ,” the legendary Argentine stated.
Given the acrimonious nature of Neymar's departure, with PSG paying his €222 million release clause, it was not easy for the Brazilian to return to Barcelona.
His departure was a shock with Barcelona unused to seeing their best players depart, particularly for a league that is widely regarded as being inferior.
Now, it is said that it would be easier for Messi to go to PSG than for Neymar to return to Barcelona!
Moreover, it has been reported that Juventus have made contact with the Barcelona superstar over the possibility of a stunning partnership amid Messi transfer speculations.
If successful, this transfer would mean that Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the two best footballers of this century, will finally play on the same team.
Messi had previously suggested that he could become a close friend with Ronaldo if they ended up playing for the same team one day.
However, Messi’s transfer to Juventus seems unlikely since the Turin-based club won’t be able to afford Messi’s services. They already have to pay Ronaldo, and that’s been a huge financial burden for them.
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Amid Messi’s transfer speculations, reporters said that Koeman had told Messi, "Your privileges in the squad are over. You have to do everything for the team. I'm going to be inflexible. You have to think about the team."
Messi and Koeman met shortly after the Dutchman's appointment amid rumors that Messi wanted to leave the club following its 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
The conversation is believed to be what convinced Messi that his time at Barcelona is up, later the Argentine notified the authorities of his intention to leave the club.
Appointing no-name coaches
Once a journalist said, "Barcelona recruits no-name coaches because at this club, the coach isn't the boss."
Looking back at the Pep Guardiola era, the club ran itself because they had great players coming through all the time and above all they had a decision maker in charge.
Since the departure of Pep Guardiola from the club in 2012, Barcelona have appointed six head coaches, including Tito Vilanova, who, after dying of cancer in 2014 was superseded by the Argentine Gerardo Martino. Luis Enrique and Valverde followed before Setien was appointed this year.
Barcelona appointed Quique Setien as its new head coach after sacking Ernesto Valverde, much to the surprise of Setien, who said he never imagined it in his "wildest dreams."
However, legendary Ronald Koeman was named as Setien's successor after their humiliating 8-2 Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich.
Generally, most of the coaches who arrived at Camp Nou have had a sporadic track record, having managed only a few teams, and some of them have not even won a domestic honor!
Some believe that appointing Setien and similar coaches was not a mistake but was instead a deliberate move because experienced coaches would only stand in the way of the man with the real power, namely, Messi.
It has been claimed that at Barcelona, the coach does not determine how the team plays. Instead, the team's style of play is largely determined by the players, in particular by Lionel Messi.
It has been concluded that as long as Barca have a team full of experienced, world-class players topped by Messi, a strong coach would only get in the way!
Over recent years, the question has always been, how long can Barcelona remain La Liga's dominant force with an aging squad?
Koeman took over an aging squad in challenging times at the Camp Nou, but he's addressed that problem before.
"[Luis] Suarez is over 30 years old, [Lionel] Messi is over 30, [Gerard] Pique is over 30, [Sergio] Busquets is over 30..." Koeman said in an interview.
"They still have a few years left, of course, but afterwards... then what?"
You have to make changes because they are important positions in the team - the whole core.
"You'll have a goalkeeper, but you won't have a center-back, holding midfielder, center forward, or Messi.
"I always say that, when you have a 30-year-old player and a 22-year-old player performing at the same level, I'd play the 22-year-old because they're the future.
"You have to play homegrown players if they're good enough."
After Messi transfer speculations spread, the concern is that the Barcelona upheaval will continue since replacing a megastar like Messi is going to be the club’s major problem, but they need to rejuvenate the team and bring the average age of their squad down.
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Messi transfer speculation
Being the club’s talisman, Messi would be blamed for everything that goes wrong, so it makes sense for him to seek the exit door and to have his reputation intact.
All in all, the Barcelona fans will miss him and the club won’t be the same ever again. However, many believe that letting Messi go might be precisely what the club and the megastar need at this point.
Maybe a change of the guard is what exactly Barcelona needs right now and a change of scenery is what Messi needs.
Camp Nou will be a place of transition for the next couple of years and a new generation of players will be taking the place of those who have represented Barcelona for over a decade.
According to a quite different view, losing Messi need not to be a catastrophe for F.C. Barcelona. Conversely, it may be a great financial opportunity for the club.
The Catalan soccer team is the richest sports club in the world but Messi’s reported annual salary of 71 million euros ($84 million) has a distorting effect on Barca’s cost structure, allowing other players to seek comparable pay, and dragging overall costs up.
The club last year reported net profit representing just 0.5% of its 837 million euros in sales. The exit of Messi, who submitted a transfer request, might let them reset their salary expectations and allocate their capital more efficiently.
Amid Messi transfer speculations, the wantaway forward snubbed coronavirus testing at Barcelona, indicating that he is set to depart the Catalan giants after almost 20 years.
Barcelona fans took to the streets to demand club president Josep Bartomeu resign after the megastar told the team he was ready to leave.
Which lucky club will sign Messi?
It has been reported that Inter Milan have also set aside the astronomical Messi transfer fee.
It was also rumored that the player's agent and father Jorge would negotiate Messi transfer to Inter Milan when his contract expires.
But, later it was announced that Inter Milan are no longer in the race to recruit Messi since his acquisition would be equal to economic prudence for the club.
On the other hand, Pep Guardiola, the father of tiki-taka, might be eager for a reunion at Manchester City!
Joining City would not only give Messi the chance to link up with his favorite coach but also prove himself in the Premier League, which is widely regarded as the toughest, most physical league in elite football.