Lionel Messi is going NOWHERE yet. He’s fuming at Barcelona for selling Arthur mid-season, sacking the boss and Eric Abidal’s woeful blame-game. But with elections next year he has the chance to go out on a high
- Spanish radio station Cadena SER claim Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona in 2021
- The Argentine is angry with the way the club’s board have managed this season
- However, he will not leave at the same time Barca hold their presidential election
- Messi is frustrated with the club’s transfer business and a number of incidents
- A move to America and Major League Soccer is likely to be Messi’s next move
Lionel Messi is reportedly on the verge of leaving Barcelona – but haven’t we been here before?
The 33-year-old could have left on a free transfer this summer due to a special clause in his contract, but now Spanish radio station Cadena SER claim he has decided to walk away at the end of next season.
Here, Sportsmail asks whether this is another false alarm or are we really just 12 months from the end of an era?
Reports in Spain have suggested that Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona next summer
Adios in 2021? Tell us it isn’t so…
There is one big hole in the story that Messi has decided to quit in 2021 because he is tired of the way the club is run and fed-up of waiting for a winning ‘project’.
There will be elections in 2021. The people who are running the club will be gone. New people will be in charge. They will promise a winning project.
A new coach, new signings. New hope. It would make no sense to walk away because of the current regime at exactly the same time that the current regime leave the club. No sense at all.
Quique Setien, Josep Maria Bartomeu and Eric Abidal could all be gone by next summer
So you don’t believe he’s leaving?
He’ll be 34 in the summer of 2021 so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he goes then. But it’s doubtful he’s already decided what he will do in 12 months’ time.
This feels like a power play. It’s a political move designed to usher the current board towards the exit now.
Messi knows time is not on his side. He doesn’t know how many games he has left in his legs.
He could have another three seasons. But if it turns out to be only one then he does not want that last season to be playing for a club run in the same shambolic way as this one. He’s agitating for change now.
Messi and his Barcelona team-mates have dropped six points since the LaLiga season resumed
What has he not liked about the way this season has been run?
There’s a long list, starting with the half-baked attempt at re-signing Neymar last summer, which was all show and no real substance.
Then there was the scandal of a firm employed by the club to monitor social media being linked to online accounts that ran negative stories about him and his family.
After that came the sacking of the manager, Ernesto Valverde, in January when the team were top and the failure to replace him with anyone better, followed swiftly by an attempt from director of football Eric Abidal to point the finger of blame at the players for the dismissal.
More recently, there was a thinly-veiled accusation that the players were resisting taking a pay-cut during the coronavirus crisis as the club laid off ordinary staff.
And then just last week, the sale of midfielder Arthur Melo slap-bang in the middle of the all-important run-in.
Messi is unhappy with Barca’s decision to sell Arthur Melo to Juventus during a crucial period
The Argentine did not understand why the club sacked Ernesto Valverde earlier this season
Could Messi really force elections this year?
It’s not impossible but it will not be easy.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu doesn’t have to call elections until next summer. Seeing out his mandate would give him and his board more time to leave the club in financial order.
The bizarre Arthur swap-sale to Juventus and the attempts to push out Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal underline how desperate they are to generate income.
There is also a limited time-frame between this season ending and the new one starting, although there is no rule that says an election must be out of season.
The transfer window will be extended to October next season so a new president could come in after the campaign starts and still have time to make squad changes.
If Barcelona don’t even make it to Portugal for the Champions League final rounds, or if they go out early, there will certainly be a clamour for elections now.
The Barcelona star, 33, is said to be considering his options amid turmoil within the club
Sounds like everything is up in the air. Are there any certainties?
Messi is peeved. That is indisputable. It’s hard to imagine he will sit down with Bartomeu posing, thumbs up, over a new contract. So he does look set to go into the last year of his deal.
That would give the club 12 months to persuade him that the future is not just going to be coronavirus cut-backs, stalled stadium improvements, botched squad improvements and zero chance of winning that one last Champions League that he craves.
If they fail to do that then the saloon doors swing open in 2021 and Messi will wander off into the sunset.
So, where could he end up?
The romantic return to Argentina is always a possibility. But the MLS feels like a more realistic option.
Somewhere warm, sunny, relaxed but still competitive where he can take that 700-goal haul and see if he can’t crank up towards the 1,000 mark.
Messi (front row, third from right) has been linked with a move home to Newell’s Old Boys
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