Bombastic news marked the last hours before the beggining of the past weekend. The communication made by Lionel Messi stating that he will stay at Camp Nou, despite not being his will, will deserve an opinative reflection in this article. We will try to understand what consequences this attitude may have within the group and, of course, in Barcelona’s 2020/21 future.
BESIDES THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF GOING BACK IN HIS DECISION, MESSI STRONGLY CRITICIZED BARTOMEU
In an interview granted to the ‘Goal’ portal, the Argentinean star spoke publicly for the first time about the whole uproar that had been running in the international press over the last few days.
He confirmed that his desire to leave Barcelona was true and explained that the decision came long before the historic 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the last Champions League.
“The defeat in Lisbon was very hard but throughout the season I told the president and the people in the club that I wanted to leave. I thought it was time to leave and put myself aside, I believe the club needed young blood and i thought my cycle was over”, declared Messi.
After admitting an alleged emotional pain for having always thought of ending his career at the club of his heart and life, the Argentine ’10’ pointed batteries to the Barcelona’s president:
“I conveyed my will to the president and he always said I could leave if I wanted to. But he did not keep his word. The burofax was just a way to make my decision official because I didn’t want, in any way, to start a war against the club,” he admitted.
“I’m going to stay because the president said that the only way out would be if someone payed the 700 million euros of the clause and that is just impossible.
I would never in my life go to court against Barcelona, it’s the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived. My attitude is not going to change because of this, I will continue to give the best of me. I hate to lose. There is a new coach, new ideas and that is good,” he concluded.
THE RISKS OF HAVING AN UPSET MESSI
Staying at Barcelona for 20 years now and being the undisputed leader of the Catalan team’s locker room, I believe that this whole situation, having Messi in the team declaredly against his own will, may generate a deep internal discomfort in Barcelona and, mainly, in the locker room.
Of course every player wants to keep playing alongside the best player in the world, but the risks of a very likely demotivation with which Messi will continue in Catalonia are, in my opinion, much bigger than the sporting performance his continuity will generate.
Risking an early consideration – mainly because this outcome will always be very dependent on what happens in the market and what the composition of Ronald Koeman’s squad (which seems to have on his way some of the Dutch national team top players) will be – I believe that this whole situation may become somehow fracturing within the group of players, having an opposite result to the desired agglutinating effect that Messi should generate internally.
NEW PSYCHOLOGICAL LASH IN SIGHT?
With Messi’s permanence, there are a number of unresolved issues within Barcelona, a few days before the official start of the 20/21 La Liga.
The eventual departure of Luis Suárez may step back, for instance, and therefore Koeman’s word may be questioned, after a strong arrival of the Dutch ex-national team coach, who tried to mark a firm position inside the locker room.
Certainly it’s not expected an easy start to the new season near Camp Nou, especially with all the pressure the club will feel after the failure that was the 2019/20 season, with Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setién sharing the technical leadership of the team.
Who could be the main victim of a possible bad start for Barcelona? Coach Ronald Koeman, of course, even though the questions that have affected the team’s performance are, in my opinion, very far from being coach related.
Despite Messi’s compliments in an interview to ‘Goal‘, I foresee a very complicated relationship between the Argentinean and Koeman, mainly because things started already with the wrong foot, due to the decision to dismiss Suárez, allegedly communicated by phone.
It’s not easy to manage a locker room with so many and such big egos and, looking at the moment the club is going through, only a highly respected figure at an internal level and with a preponderant history at Barcelona (Luis Enrique, Pep Guardiola, maybe even Xavi Hernández…) could help to reorder the troops.
Koeman will start his adventure with the specter of this ghost in his shadow and will have to deal with the fact that Lionel Messi is above everything and everyone in Barcelona. It remains to unveil what Josep Maria Bartomeu future will be from now on, being quite likely the scenario of early elections.
Barcelona’s debut in this new edition of La Liga is scheduled for September 27, since some matches were postponed due to the presence of the Catalan team in the “final four” of the Champions League in Lisbon. The match against Villarreal, in Camp Nou, has no odds yet in the online bookmakers.
The exhibition match against Gimnàstic Tarragona, which will be Koeman’s first at the service of the club he represented as a player, will take place next Saturday, the 12th, and there are also no odds available yet.