It is unlikely that Lionel Messi will play another game this month for Barcelona. It is unlikely that he will stay on at the Camp Nou beyond this season. It has been quite a forgettable season for the Argentine footballer and the fact that his contemporaries are going from strength to strength at other clubs, while more often than not he is left wearing an exasperated expression in the blue and red, does not help.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been breaking goal scoring records for fun, close friend Luis Suarez has found a fresh lease of life at Atletico Madrid and Neymar continues to rule in Paris.
Messi meanwhile picked up his first ever red card for the Barcelona senior team.
There is absolutely no defense or logic of his actions against Athletic Bilbao, much like the unwanted noise around him regarding his future at the club.
Messi taking a swing at Asier Villalibre is not the first time there has been a show of rage or heated moment involving him. There’s been plenty of nasty duels with Sergio Ramos and Pepe in El Clasicos and more recently last year, when Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix was on the receiving end.
On that Sunday night in Seville during the SuperCopa Final, Messi’s lashing out was purely in rage, less likely aimed at his opponent, but more probably a reaction to the increasing frustrations due to the recent decline in fortunes and that he is hopelessly helpless.
Rarely has there been a day at Barcelona where Messi has not found a way as defenders have come and gone, failing the test against his unmatched skills. Things have always fallen in place when his feet took charge but now even that can’t arrest the slump for La Blauranga, a club he has loved with all his heart from the get-go, one that holds a special place in Messi’s heart.
If Messi had his way back in the summer of 2020, would this be happening?
With Messi and the Barcelona board at loggerheads through the first half of 2020 over various issues like performance, pay cuts during the pandemic and the social media attacks, the Argentine handed in a transfer request, that sent shock waves across the football fraternity. Barcelona’s season ended in humiliation as they did not have the wherewithal to threaten the mighty Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
As the pandemic raged, the relationship between Messi and Barcelona, and their president Josep Bartomeu, become murkier and the Spanish football authorities and his father Jorge were called in to find a solution as both sides refused to budge.
After weeks of bitterness Bartomeu stepped down and Messi joined the team again in early September as Koeman looked to steady the ship first and then take Barcelona to back to the dizzying heights. As the weeks rolled on, that task seemed to grow tougher and the power of Messi, where you didn’t know what magical moment was next, seemed to be diminishing as was the quality around him.
2020 made one of the most loyal players in world football question his decision to remain at a club where he grew up from a talented kid to a global superstar.
One of the roots of this messy affair is the Presidential elections at Barcelona and that’s back yet again.
Messi, who isn’t backing any of the presidential candidates, has not been shy to highlight that he feels the club is in bad shape and hopes the next chief has a clear plan to return the club to its former glory.
The 33-year-old is happiest when his feet are creating problems others can’t solve and neither him nor Barcelona will want to part ways on a bitter note. His contract runs out at the end of the season and he would walk a free agent if Barcelona can’t convince him to sign another contract.
While he’s admitted to feeling happier and more motivated than before, he’s described the situation at the club as “really bad”.
FC Barcelona needs a reboot. Messi needs a reboot so that belief system can go back to hailing Messi as the saviour and the usual rules of cause and effect cease to apply again.
Will they do it together? Will the two-decade long association survive?
You, me and the onlooker can only say, Give me hope Joanna!
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