Lionel Messi is not going anywhere … he is fuming in Barcelona but has the chance to leave at a peak
Lionel Messi is reportedly about to leave Barcelona – but haven’t we been here before?
The 33-year-old could have left for free this summer due to a special clause in his contract, but now Spanish radio station Cadena SER claims he has decided to run late next season.
Here, Sports email asks if this is another false alarm or are we really only 12 months after the end of an era?
According to reports in Spain, Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona next summer
Adios in 2021? Tell us it’s not so …
There is one big hole in the story that Messi has decided to quit in 2021 because he is tired of the way the club is run and tired of waiting for a winning ‘project’.
There will be elections in 2021. The people who run the club will be gone. New people will be in charge. They promise a winning project.
A new coach, new acquisitions. New hope. There would be no point in walking away because of the current regime, at exactly the same time that the current regime is leaving the club. No sense at all.
Quique Setien, Josep Maria Bartomeu and Eric Abidal could all be gone next summer
So you don’t believe he’s leaving?
He will be 34 in the summer of 2021, so it is not out of the question that he will go. But it is doubtful that he has already decided what he will do in 12 months.
This feels like a power play. It is a political move designed to lead the current sign to the exit now.
Messi knows that time is not on his side. He does not know how many games he still has in his legs.
He could have three more seasons. But if it turns out to be just one, he doesn’t want that last season playing the same scruffy way for a club run. He now strives for change.
Messi and his teammates in Barcelona have fallen by six points since the LaLiga season resumed
What did he dislike about the way this season went?
There’s a long list, starting with the half-baked attempt to re-sign Neymar last summer, which was all show and no real content.
Then there was the scandal of a company employed by the club to check if social media was linked to online accounts with negative stories about him and his family.
Then came the resignation of manager, Ernesto Valverde, in January when the team was top and failed to replace him with someone who was better, quickly followed by an attempt by football director Eric Abidal to blame the players for dismissal.
More recently, there was a thinly veiled accusation that the players opposed a cut in wages during the corona virus crisis when the club simply fired staff.
And last week, midfielder Arthur Melo’s sales went off in the middle of the all-important run-in.
Messi is dissatisfied with Barca’s decision to sell Arthur Melo to Juventus during a crucial period
The Argentinian did not understand why the club fired Ernesto Valverde earlier this season
Could Messi really enforce elections this year?
It is not impossible, but it will not be easy.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu won’t be holding elections until next summer. If he saw his mandate, he and his board would have more time to leave the club financially.
Arthur’s bizarre barter sale to Juventus and the attempts to take out Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal underscore how desperate they are to generate income.
There is also a limited time frame between the end of this season and the start of the new season, although there is no rule saying that an election must be out of season.
The transfer window will be extended until October next season so that a new president can come in after the campaign has started and still has time to switch teams.
If Barcelona doesn’t even make it to Portugal for the Champions League final round, or if they go out early, there will certainly be calls for elections now.
The Barcelona star, 33, would consider his options amid turmoil within the club
It sounds like everything is in the air. Are there any certainties?
Messi is outraged. That is beyond dispute. It’s hard to imagine that he’ll sit with Bartomeu posing, thumbs up, over a new contract. So he looks forward to entering the final year of his deal.
That would give the club 12 months to convince him that the future will not only lead to cuts to coronavirus, stalled stadium improvements, failed team improvements and no chance of winning that last Champions League he craves.
If they don’t, the saloon doors will open in 2021 and Messi will wander the sunset.
Where could he end up?
A romantic return to Argentina is always an option. But the MLS feels like a more realistic option.
Somewhere warm, sunny, relaxed yet competitive, where he can take that distance of 700 goals and see if he can’t hit the 1,000 mark.
Messi (first row, third from right) has been linked to a move to Newell’s Old Boys