This is a situation that hasn’t happened before: for the first time since he became a professional footballer, Lionel Messi is not officially a player of any team. His contract with Barcelona came to an end on June 30th, and there’s been no announcement since then, which means, we may assume, that Messi is without a club.
However, it’s worth mentioning that this is probably only a technical detail. By all accounts, Messi is extremely close to signing a new deal with the Catalan club, and it’ll likely happen next week. The Argentine player is on holiday following his success with the national team at the Copa American tournament.
We only have rumours to go off, but it looks like Messi will sign at least a five-year contract. So what can we expect from Messi’s future at Barcelona? Let’s take a look.
Messi is all about titles, both for himself and his club. But by this stage of his career, you imagine he’s more interested in club glory than individual glory. After all, it hasn’t been an overly successful couple of years for Barcelona. Messi has been the top goal-scorer in La Liga for the past five seasons, yet only won two titles in that time. That’s not bad for most clubs, but it’s bad for Barcelona, and it’s especially bad for a player like Messi. This year might be different. Messi will be weaker, but Barcelona will be stronger. The greatest player of his generation may have scored 30 league goals last season, but you imagine that most people backing him to repeat the feat this year will be using free bet offers. Now that he’s nearly 34, he just can’t be expected to bang in goals every single week.
The Seasons Beyond
He’s nearly 34 now, but this is a long-term contract, remember. So what’s going to happen as Messi begins to age? He may be the best player of his generation (or even of all generations), but there’ll come a time when he’s simply not able to produce the same level of performance. Or at least not in such a consistent manner. You imagine that after next season, the level of his performance will begin to decline to a much more noticeable degree. In that instance, we may see Messi playing in a deeper role or coming off the bench towards the end of the game. He has slowed down his game already, so there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be effective playing against a more tired opposition.
While this will likely be a five-year contract, it’s unlikely that either Messi or the club think that the player will still be there in five years. What’s more likely is that the contract is spread over multiple years so the club can avoid financial penalties. There’ll come a point in the future, maybe in two years, when Messi leaves Barcelona. However, it’s unlikely that he’ll retire. A move to China, America, or back to Argentina is probable, at least for a year or two. Messi did always say that he wants to end his career at Newell’s Old Boys, the club with which he began his footballing journey.
Of course, even if Messi does leave to play for another club for a couple of years, that won’t be the end of the Messi-Barcelona journey. If Messi were to go down the coaching route, you know that he’d do so at Barcelona. However, it seems unlikely that Messi will become a coach. It’s not really his style. Instead, you’d expect that Messi works for the club in a more official capacity. For example, he may work as an ambassador, especially since he’s unlikely to move away from beautiful Barcelona. Given that he’s their best ever player and the journey they’ve been on together, you know there’ll always be an eternal bond that links Barcelona and Messi.