Without doubt one of the greatest players ever to grace the field of play is Lionel Messi. He is not just a super athlete but is also a consummate professional.
I have seen people take pot shots at him because of the recent impasse with FC Barcelona, but the truth of the matter is there is more to all this than meets the eye. The situation with Messi in this case is pretty different from previous times when he had issues with the Barca board. This one runs much deeper.
Since Sandro Rosell took over in 2010 they have tried to wipe the club of everything that is Cruyff, Laporta, and Guardiola. Bartomeu is Rosell’s best friend and was his V.P in charge of basketball and handball. He was not a football man and was never considered a man of his own and so it seems he is acting out Rosell’s script. 80% of the present board was constituted by Rosell before he was forced to resign and go to jail over the Neymar transfer issue and tax matters.
Joan Laporta and Sandro Rosell are mortal enemies even though Rosell once supported Laporta. When Rosell became president one of the first things he did was revoke Johan Cruyff’s honorary lifetime president role amidst several other issues.
Barca’s finances have been bad for some years but they have been able to paper over the cracks for some time. But the outlay of Messi’s salary has always been a major problem. Barcelona pays him over £600,000 every week as his basic salary. Add on some other bonuses then you will see how his wages have been burning a hole in their pockets.
With some tweaking here and there before COVID-19 Bartomeu was going to announce Barca as the first club to cross the €1 billion revenue mark but the pandemic messed things up, so their bad financial state only became much worse. So more than ever they now must balance their books. This was always going to be a reason to cash in on Messi.
Then, of course there is the fact that Messi is a Cruyffista. That is a problem for Rosell and Bartomeu and these two issues have always been at the fore in their desire to move Messi on. But their quandary has always been how to move him on without drawing the ire of the fans.
For years Messi has been unhappy about the apparent lack of will and desire to refresh the playing staff and add players that can move the level of FC Barcelona to the point they were under Laporta and Guardiola. He has been very frustrated and this has now boiled over. Even before the 8-2 flogging by Bayern he had been voicing his discontent over many things, but because he doesn’t talk too much he hasn’t taken to the public to trash the board.
Bartomeu CANNOT sack him, so he had this opportunity to see how Messi could leave by himself. So he got Koeman to come in and call Luis Suarez, Messi’s bestie, on the phone and inside 5 minutes tell him he will not be part of his plans and he had to leave Barca immediately. They singled Suarez out in order to get to Messi.
Everything eventually got to Messi and the board almost got what they initially had wished, but then Messi let his loyalty to the club and the socios that make up Barcelona keep him from taking the club to court. There are people within Barcelona who want Messi to stay at all costs because he is their poster boy. The board however, has other ideas.
The club is in a mess and legends like Carles Puyol and Iniesta have been estranged by Rosell and Bartomeu. When they sacked Ernesto Valverde as manager Bartomeu offered the post to Xavi and he declined because he wanted nothing to do with this board.
Now they are using this as some sort of face saving measure even though both they and Messi wanted to part ways. It’s a tight position and I think it is now untenable for Leo to remain in FC Barcelona beyond next summer.
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