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Messi and Barcelona: Will the Saga Continue?

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This summer marks a pivotal time in the career of arguably the best player to grace a football pitch. Let’s take a look at what the situation looks like and what the most probable outcome will be.

Lionel Messi kissing the CL Trophy - Champions League final - Barcelona

Just a few years ago, not in our wildest dreams would we have imagined the situation we’re witnessing right now in Barcelona. But since Luis Enrique’s departure as manager, it has been anything but a steady ship. Barca has suffered multiple humiliations in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the past five years. The players have been unhappy with the people in charge of the club. Changing managers a couple of times since the treble-winning 2014-15 season has yielded nothing but increasing dissatisfaction among the fans and players.

Factors both on and off the pitch have resulted in one of Barca’s most loyal servants to consider his future away from the club of his life. Since we’ve witnessed sheer greatness for more than a decade at the Camp Nou, one could assume that there can be no reason good enough for this story to end, so it’s hard for any football fan to even think of Messi leaving. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Messi’s contract with Barcelona expires this summer, so he’ll become a free agent, available to any club who can afford to pay his mammoth wages. There are a few clubs who are capable of that, along with reasons why he should stay and why we think he won’t. Let’s dive right in and find out what intricacies are involved in this critical situation.


Reasons why Messi will stay at Barcelona

Josep Maria Bartomeu is no longer Barca’s president

Barcelona’s former President Joan Laport
Newly elected president Joan Laporta with Messi celebrating the La Liga title in 2009.
Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

A whole lot of Barca players weren’t exactly fans of former president Bartomeu, which became evident on many occasions. Lionel Messi was one of them, and it was presumably the biggest reason he has been willing to part ways with the club. Now the situation has changed a bit: the presidency has gone back to the man who served as president from 2003-2010, the most successful period for the club. And, no prizes for guessing who was instrumental in the team’s success during that period. Messi loves Laporta, and Laporta loves Messi, so their relationship could turn out to be one of the biggest deciding factors. Laporta is more than capable of persuading Messi stay, and there’s a good chance that he will do so.

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Who could afford him?

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

According to some sources, Messi is the world’s highest paid footballer. Though a club who wants him would not pay a transfer fee, a new employer would still need to pay an enormous wage bill to bring pen to paper. Before COVID, this wouldn’t have been such a big issue, but now even big clubs like PSG and Manchester City have been squeezed financially by empty seats at matches. So it’ll be a big ask to pay him the staggering amount he’s currently earning plus any signing fee he might demand, which makes staying at Barca more likely.

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He might want to be a part of the resurgence of Barca under Ronald Koeman

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

In my opinion, apart from the Champions League, Barca has looked way better compared to when managed by Ernesto Valverde or Quique Setien. The team looks more united than ever, and Koeman seems to have found the right balance within the team. Messi is happy and has been scoring goals for fun lately. As of now, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to leave when the team is moving toward a more positive stage of the rebuilding process. He of all people knows how big an impact he can have. He’s playing under a coach who seems to have a nice working relationship with all the players, plus he’s getting results in the race for La Liga. So we can reason that after suffering an abysmal phase, Messi would want to stay to reap the potential rewards in the near future.

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His family

FC Barcelona V Levante UD - La Liga Photo by Jose Breton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Messi currently resides in a beautiful (and rather expensive) mansion with his wife and three kids in one of the most elegant cities in the world. Though this might not sound like a big enough reason to decide his future, it certainly could add weight to staying. If he wants to accept a challenge at another club, it’ll be a big transition for his family to move (or suffer his absence), especially since his kids are very young. If he decides to move alone, COVID introduces uncertainty regarding travel, which he would probably like to avoid. From an outsider’s perspective, it makes little sense to go through all of this to play perhaps another four years of football for a different team.


Reasons he might leave

He has made up his mind and there’s no convincing him

This might be a little tricky if he’s just done with Barca. If the new president or the current positive phase of the club or where it is heading don’t excite him at all, there’s no reason to make him stay. If it comes down to this, he might even take a massive pay cut to play for another club. Though this scenario is highly unlikely in my opinion, it’s a genuine possibility.

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He wants a new challenge

Messi has been the target of criticism from some football pundits for a long time for not trying himself in different leagues like his rival Ronaldo has done. People even doubt his capabilities to do well outside of La Liga, which is absurd, but these things do play with a player’s head sometimes. So if he thinks he has a point to prove, he might decide to take another challenge elsewhere.

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Christian Martin says so

Famous Argentine journalist Christian Martin, who’s pretty reputed and reliable on transfers, has stated that his sources are saying that Messi will leave Barcelona at the end of the season. Now this is huge, since he was one of the first to announce Manchester City’s interest in signing Messi. If this claim has any truth to it, then disappointment awaits for Barca fans around the world.

Also, John Laporta has accepted that he can’t force Messi to stay but that it’ll be amazing for everyone if he does. So his fate isn’t crystal clear; nobody (except Christian Martin apparently) can confidently say that he’ll stay or leave, so all we can do is make an educated guess. Based on my observations and what I’ve heard, I still think Messi stays to continue his amazing story until the end of his career and weave his magic at the Camp Nou for a few more years.

Cheers,

Prakhar

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What are your opinions on Messi’s career plans? Do you think he stays? Or do you think there’s nothing to be done to make him stay? If he decides to leave, where do you think he’ll likely play next? Please let us know in the comments below!

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