Virtually all soccer fans have heard the news by now, but in case you haven’t: Argentine legend Lionel Messi could be on his way out of the Camp Nou sometime in the near future after sending a burofax, or Spanish legal fax, to the club last week. Another thing to add to the list of things that can only happen in 2020.
This comes after an apparent meeting with newly appointed manager Ronald Koeman in which he said many of the current players weren’t pictured in his future squad and that Messi’s “privileges” will be long gone.
At the time of writing, Messi is the second most loyal active player to a single club, having stayed put for just over 16.5 years.
I think it’s only best for someone who has supported Barcelona for quite some time to give their take on the Messi conflict. With that, this is my stance: While many fans of the sport are baffled to hear reports of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner possibly leaving, I can’t say I’m surprised or anything of that matter. If anything, I would like for him to leave Barcelona. Plain and simple.
Now don’t get me wrong, I adore Messi for all he has done for Barcelona. He, along with Carles Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta, were the reason I became a Barcelona fan around 2009, watching Pep Guardiola command his Catalonian side into a golden era and getting the treble, or winning three trophies in a season.
Watching a legendary player like Messi over the years kind of starts to take a toll on you when you reflect on the many trophies and individual achievements he’s gotten, like breaking league records and winning the Ballon d’Or in four consecutive years, while only being at one club. However, like I said, Messi has done it all for Barcelona. In return? A board who sold Neymar, a player who was crucial in Barcelona’s front three at the time; a board who has not only ignored the players in what they wanted but also the fans; a board who in return has bought various mediocre players for quite some money while the talented players at the club’s academy get bought and sent elsewhere in Europe; and a board that can’t get over the fact its star player wants to save his career and leave because the past few years have been an absolute embarrassment and they would rather keep him imprisoned at the club until his contract runs out. A mouthful, but I’m pretty upset with the board as well and 100% in support of Messi leaving. Even former teammate Carles Puyol commented on the conflict on Twitter showing his support for Messi.
Now there’s a lot of information going around about the situation, but Messi’s contract has been the main talking point because of a certain (and rather confusing) termination clause established back in 2017 and runs out in June 2021. What Messi has been arguing about for this particular clause is that because of COVID-19 interrupting the club’s schedule, it allows him until the end of August to inform the club of his departure and leave on a free transfer. Reason being, if the pandemic had occurred next year, the board likely would’ve asked Messi to stay and to see how the following season would play out. However, and with La Liga on the club’s side, Barcelona has said that the clause specifically notes that Messi would have to have put his notice of leaving for free by June 10, and that any interested club would now have to pay his astonishing €700 release clause (over $836 million).
This kind of news is long overdue. Ever since the beginning of Barcelona’s downfall when they were shamefully beaten by AS Roma in the Champions League quarter finals back in 2018, Messi has made headlines here and there outside of the matches he played, a majority of which involved the Barcelona board.
As for the teams I can see him leaving for, I think it ultimately comes down to Manchester City. They clearly have the money and will most likely ride along the Financial Fair Play line once again, but I would say it’s worth it for a decorated player like Messi and for his reunion with Guardiola. Another team I would like to see him go to (though I think would only be possible if Messi leaves as a free agent) is Juventus, just to see him and Ronaldo finish their remarkable careers together.
On Sunday, Messi didn’t show up to Barcelona’s COVID-19 testing, and the following day he was also absent from Koeman’s first training session. He clearly wants to get out of the club even if Club President Josep Bartomeu resigned in order to keep him there. I don’t think he’ll have second thoughts on leaving. The past few years Barcelona have truly started to live up to their motto “mes que un club”: it has turned into a damn circus show.