Lionel Messi and Barcelona has been a match made in heaven, and football fans all over the world are lucky that this pair has given them so much joy in the last decade. However, everything has an expiry date and 2017 could be the year when Messi and Barcelona take a break from each other. This sounds a little weird, but the Argentine maestro to leave Camp Nou is now closer than ever.
There is not one but multiple factors which can contribute La Pulga to make a transfer from Barca, and move, probably, to Manchester City, PSG, or even Chelsea.
Issues With Role In The Team
Many have predicted that Messi’s primary reason to stall contract talks has to do with financial reasons. But, according to reports from reputed new outlets in Spain, the major thing which Leo wants from Barcelona management is his desired role in the team.
Ever since Barca legend Xavi Hernandez left the club in 2015, Messi has been assigned an added role to look at the team’s midfield along with his usual duty of finishing the move. What Xavi used to do, in his time at the team, was control the midfield and dictate the tempo of the game. This used to allow the forward players, especially Messi, to play in final third – much closer to the goal.
But it has been almost two years since Xavi departed and still, Barcelona has not replaced him adequately. This has made Lionel drop deep down to start moves and provide final passes. While the Argentine has a natural midfield quality and is more than able to do so, it has added him pressure of handling both midfield and attack. Also, during Xavi’s era, it was optional for Leo to drop down to midfield while now, it has become a compulsion.
Barcelona has brought Ivan Rakitic and Andre Gomez in order to strengthen its midfield, but the duo has been far from dictating the game in order to reduce Messi’s involvement in the middle of the park.
This claim was solidified when a popular Spanish newspaper, Marca, revealed Messi‘s concerns in his role in the team.
New Footballing Experience
Still 29 years of age and a record five times winner of the Ballon d’Or, Messi has nothing to prove at Barcelona. His four Champions League titles and eight Spanish League trophies could be matched by few, and it seems very logical for Messi to experience a different footballing culture – may be in England, Italy or Germany.
However, the astronomical money involved in the possible deal means just a few clubs qualify to make Messi’s transfer from Barcelona. Europe heavyweights like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Man City, PSG, and maybe Chelsea have a realistic chance to sign the little magician.
Close Connections With Manchester City and Pep Guardiola
Among the above-mentioned clubs, Manchester City seems to be the one because of the presence of former Barca manager Pep Guardiola, Leo’s close pal Sergio Aguero, and Man City’s virtually infinite financial muscle. The presence of two former Barcelona directors, Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano in current Manchester City board, can also make his transition from Spain to England seamless.
It is no secret that the maestro played his best football under the tutelage Guardiola, and if he were to make a transfer to another club, Manchester City should be his first choice.
The Never-Ending Tax Case
Messi’s tax issue been ongoing for years. A few months back, Lionel and his father were convicted guilty by the court. The verdict allowed Messi to avoid a jail time, but the Barcelona star decided to appeal against the decision which he claims an injustice against him and his family.
Despite this ongoing saga, Barcelona fans’ love for Messi has never diminished. However, it is an open secret that Leo’s life has been less peaceful because of the court case, and it can influence Messi’s decision to make a move to Manchester City or any other club.
Pep Guardiola once said one day Messi may decide that his children should learn English and make a move to England, then Manchester City would surely be active to make a deal, via the Mirror.
“Maybe he will think, ‘Okay, I want to go play somewhere else’ because maybe he wants his kids to speak English or live a different experience, like many of us.
“Maybe it could happen, but if he decides to go and it happens, there would be a list of seven or eight clubs that would want to sign him, and it would be down to him. Messi will decide where to go.”
Just a few days ago, Messi posted his younger son, Mateo, learning English from a TV cartoon and dancing. Many speculated whether the star wants a transfer from Barca to play in an English club. Even though it is little early to predict his future based on that news, it surely added fuel to the fire.
Lionel’s Relation with the Barcelona board
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartemeu has always stressed that his board has a very warm relation with Messi, and he will do everything in his powers to keep the diminutive Argentine at the Catalan capital.
But a few weeks ago, one of the Barcelona directors, Pere Gratacos, insulted Messi in public, saying the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is only good because of the presence of players like Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique alongside him.
And a few days before this incident, another Barca supremo had suggested the club should not break the bank to keep Messi, and inferred the club should move on from this matter.
Although later the president sacked Gratacos from the club, there is no doubt that there are many biggies in the board who believe Barcelona will be better off without Messi, and the club can survive without him. There are many voices inside the management team who think now the team should be built around Neymar and Luis Suarez, and Messi should be sold.
This will allow wage burden of the club decrease massively, and some money from the transfer can be used to buy a replacement star. The remaining money would be used for Camp Nou renovation as Barcelona’s iconic stadium is going to be revamped which will cost them a small fortune.
So What’s Next
The coming months are going to be very crucial regarding Messi’s future as the contract talks are scheduled. There is a good chance that Lionel will remain in Barca. But, there is also a chance that the two parties will not come to an agreement. In such case, a transfer of Messi from Barcelona, most likely to Manchester City, is possible.
[Featured Image by Alex Caparros/Getty Images]