After the horror of Friday night’s game against Bayern Munich in Lisbon, Lionel Messi has reportedly told Barcelona he’s had enough, and wants to leave the club immediately.
Esporte Interativo reported that the Argentine astro has communicated his desire to leave the Catalan side after crisis talk, following seasonal woeful performances that have consecutively characterized its Champions League outings.
On Friday night, Barcelona suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich, dashing the Spanish giants hope to clinch the Champions League trophy once again, and compounding the sad tales of lost hopes emanating from the loss of crucial Champions League matches in the past seasons.
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The preceding seasons saw Barcelona losing semi-final matches 1-4 to AS Roma, after a 3-1 first leg lead, and 0-4 to Liverpool after a 3-0 lead. The results had forced Messi to break his promise of bringing the Champions League trophy back to Camp Nou.
Messi’s reluctance to renew his contract with Barcelona had suggested he’s considering bidding farewell to his childhood club. He arrived at Barcelona at a tender age of 13 and has since grown to become the world best player for a record six times, among other titles.
However, recent happenings in the club have caused him to reconsider his future with the Spanish side. The situation deteriorated when Real Madrid came from behind to snatch the league from Barcelona, a development he attributed to poor management, complacency and lack of commitment by some of his team mates. Messi was counting on the Champions League to assuage the painful loss, and said a lot of changes needed for the team to win.
“If we want to win the Champions League, we need to change many things and get more serious. If we continue like this, we will lose against Napoli, and we will not win the Champions League,” he said after Real Madrid won La Liga.
Messi had earlier criticized the club’s president, Josep Bartomeu and his board over poor management of the club, which forced the players to take 70% pay cuts so that the staff of the club could be paid as coronavirus forced fans out of the stadia, halting revenue generated through ticket sales.
Manchester City has indicated interest in bringing the 32 years old to Etihad Stadium, and has been observing the events as they unfold at Camp Nou.
Messi has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free at the end of every season but it expired at the end of May. That means, his £635 million current buy-out clause makes him unaffordable for every club, though City said they are ready to break the bank to see him reunite with Guardiola.
While City waits for a signal from Barcelona, it is believed that Messi may have said he is leaving to force the necessary changes in the club, given how critical he has been about everything, and what the frustration of not winning trophies can force him to do.
In 2016, Messi announced his retirement from international football after missing a penalty as Argentina lost a shoot-out to Chile in the Copa America final. It took a global barrage of entreatment to persuade his change of mind.
However, Bartomeu said there is going to be changes in the club in the coming weeks, after calling the situation “tough” and the match a “disaster.”
“I feel bad for everyone, for all the members, for the fans, for the players and for everyone. Because we are not being the team that we are and the club that we should be, and I feel so bad about it… and now is the time to take some decisions. We need to take these decisions because we need to take them, and then there are some others we need to take now,” he said after Barcelona’s match against Bayern.
It is yet to be known if the decisions will involve selling Messi and using the fund to revamp the team. Barcelona has a €500 million annual wage bill, the highest in Europe, and with the financial crisis induced by the pandemic, the club cannot afford to buy new players without selling some. The club may be willing to sacrifice its greatest asset, Lionel Messi to build a new team.