Lionel Messi shocked the world yesterday by submitting a transfer request and asking Barcelona to activate the clause that would let him leave the Catalan club for free. Barcelona have responded privately to their captain that they want him to stay but the bad feud between the Barcelona board and the club legend is beyond repair now.
Their hope of even trying to convince Messi to stay hangs by a thread and depends on the future of Barcelona President Bartomeu. The Barcelona President is not planning to resign anytime soon but the pressure on him is mounting.
Barcelona’s stance is that Lionel Messi can’t leave for free and the clause that would let him leave for free at the end of every season expired on June 10th. However, with the season being extended, Messi and his legal team feel otherwise and are considering their options.
Is Messi’s transfer request a ploy to get rid of Bartomeu?
Numerous fans have viewed this saga skeptically believing the Argentine submitted a transfer request to get rid of Bartomeu. Even if Bartomeu steps down, convincing Messi to stay won’t be an easy job. The Barcelona captain is in the twilight of his career and Barcelona are in re-building mood.
Messi has won six Ballon D’or awards, in addition to ten La Liga and four Champions League titles. The 33 year old seems to believe he wouldn’t be able to win major silverware at Barcelona while they are re-building for the future. Given his age, he has 2 to 3 good shots at securing another Ballon D’or and the odds of securing one in Barcelona colours look bleak with the quality and age of players around him. Barcelona’s monetary situation doesn’t look great either.
Blaming Messi for his decision to submit a transfer request would be imprudent. The Barcelona captain kept expressing his displeasure multiple times over the last couple of years and the writing was on the wall. Bartomeu took Messi for granted and it could be too late even for a new Barcelona President to convince their best ever player to stay. However, the possibility of that scenario becoming reality can’t be ruled out either. After all, Messi has spent 2 decades at the Catalan capital.
Right now though, Messi’s decision to leave appears quite concrete and efforts have been made by the player’s camp to secure a move to one club in particular. Reputed Brazilian Journalist Marcelo Bechler who broke the Neymar to PSG story has confirmed Messi wants to play for Manchester City.
Manchester City play the waiting game:
Barcelona aside, the one club that continues to enjoy a great relationship with Messi happens to be Manchester City. With Pep Guardiola in-charge of the club and one of Messi’s best friends – Sergio Aguero enjoying an ‘idol’ status at the blue side of Manchester, the Citizens are the favourites to sign Messi, if the Barcelona captain is firm on his decision to leave Camp Nou.
Pep Guardiola and former Barcelona executives Ferran Sorriano and Txiki Begiristain occupy three of the four top roles at Man City. All three former Barcelona employees do not want to look like the bad guys in the Messi saga. While all of them would be happy to welcome Messi to the Etihad stadium, they do not want to be seen as the guys pushing for the deal.
The club Chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak is a fan of the Argentine and has disclosed City were interested in bringing the Barcelona idol to Manchester in the past.
Manchester City are observing what is happening in the Catalan capital with their fingers crossed. Even though City maintain that they are not working on a deal for Messi right now, it has been reported that Messi’s camp have spoken to key decision-makers at City to check if an agreement can be reached. Privately, Man City have told Messi’s camp that they are interested in welcoming Messi and he is the only player for whom City would break their wage structure.
Have the negotiations for Messi started?
Multiple reports suggest Man City and the player are talking but Barcelona’s stance is unknown at this stage.
Lionel Messi has already spoken to Pep Guardiola via phone as per the report from David_Ornstein of The Atheltic. Barcelona based journalist Gerard Romero confirmed this and went a step ahead to claim City have actually made Messi an offer and the Argentine is studying City’s offer.
Spanish journalist Alfredo Martínez claims Pep Guardiola is very interested in Messi. Signing Messi would be the icing on the cake for the club. Messi is now looking for an ambitious project and he could find it together with his mentor Pep in England.
Would PSG try to sign Messi?
PSG have ruled themselves out of the race to sign Messi. Given their monumental wage-bill and players like Neymar and Mbappe already sitting on incredibly high wages, the French club are not exploring the option to sign Messi.
PSG’s current priority is to strengthen the bench and improve their squad depth. Signing Messi would weaken their finances as the club aim to satisfy FFP regulations. Out of the top European clubs, only Man City are the club left with both the funds and an ambitious project to entice Messi.
Would the Messi-Barcelona feud would end up in court?
Guillem Balague told the BBC this feud can easily end up in court because both parties view the contract in a different way.
Barcelona are sticking to the release clause of €700m in Messi’s contract but that could change in the upcoming days. The club’s stance is clear – the clause that would let Messi leave for free expired on June 10th. Messi and his lawyers feel the player has the right to trigger the exit clause as the season got extended due to the pandemic and his contract allows him to leave for free at the end of every season.
Going to the court to sort this matter would be disastrous for both parties. Messi has spent all his best years at Barcelona being a loyal servant to the club and if the club hides behind cherry-picked words instead of the promise they made, it would be an insult to their greatest ever player. Meanwhile, Messi taking Barcelona to the court would also have an impact on his ‘idol’ status at the club.
Every football fan will have an eye on Barcelona for the next few days. “My future at this point of time is more outside of Barcelona than inside”, the player reportedly told new manager Ronald Koeman in a private meeting. It seems like that statement holds true at this stage.