Leo Messi declared this week that he’d be happy to stay at Barca for the rest of his career…’but sometimes you don’t always get what you want’. Would he really leave Camp Nou?
One of the observations that former Barcelona boss Tata Martino made about his year in the Catalan capital was that most of his time at the club was dedicated to handling issues far removed from the simple world of 11 men kicking a ball about.
The Argentinean had to deal with all manner of hot topics from the press including FIFA bans on transfers, tax law, contract law, Gerard Piqué’s attitude (and weight) and Leo Messi’s happiness levels. Not a huge amount has changed for Luis Enrique, who is living a Groundhog day with his team’s failing form.
This week, the media agenda in Barcelona was all about Messi and comments he made to the Argentinean press whilst on international duty that he was happy to stay at Camp Nou for the rest of his life. Of course, that would have been just fine, but he chose to add that you don’t always get what you want in life. Whilst it was not quite up there with Ronaldo’s sulky “I’m not happy” declaration, Messi’s comments caused quite the tremor at Barca, who are already suffering a crisis of confidence. “Whilst Messi’s words can be interpreted in many different ways, they are worrying and come at an inopportune time,” wrote Miguel Rico, in Mundo Deportivo. “They are too dangerous to ignore.”
The big question is why Messi would be unhappy. He has had endless contract re-negotiations to put him on a financial par with Ronaldo, but there is always the sensation that money has never been a motivating factor. Instead, Messi may be feeling the same as many fans, the sensation that the club is going in completely the wrong direction under Josep Bartomeu’s leadership.
The recent transition from Pep Guardiola’s dream team appears to have been mismanaged. The departures of Víctor Valdés and Carles Puyol, as well as Xavi’s gradual decline, have left a team without a spine and leadership on the pitch. The court cases at Barcelona’s door keep on piling up – including Messi’s own tax situation – while the club cannot move in the transfer market for the next two windows. There is a feeling of stagnation for those in the starting XI and malaise for those in the stands.
Meanwhile Real Madrid (and a stunningly good Ronaldo) look a good bet to both retain the Champions League title and win La Liga. Out of other peers in Barcelona’s Big Team brigade, Chelsea look beefed up to mount a challenge for the European crown under José Mourinho whilst Bayern Munich also appear formidable.
Of course, understanding the enigmatic and faintly odd Messi is like trying to interpret the body language of a turtle. “The problem is that he doesn’t speak much and hardly ever in Barcelona, so we always have to interpret his words,” says Joan Vehils in Sport, who claims the comments were just Messi’s peculiar manner. However, this did not stop his paper looking at the possible clubs that could afford to lure Messi away.
Messi’s possible funk is just another problem in Enrique’s inbox ahead of the visit of Sevilla on Saturday, an opponent who could cause one or two problems for Barca despite bottling a number of big games this season. There will be another guessing game of whether Piqué is going to start, whilst supporters are still waiting for Luis Suárez to light the fireworks. There was certainly an indication that will soon happen when the Uruguayan saved Barca’s skins against Almería two weeks ago with a late cameo and two assists.
Although the 90 minutes against Sevilla could be a little fraught, they could be a pleasing distraction for Luis Enrique. For once, the Barça boss will be able to focus purely on football, before the madness of the extra-curricular life at the Camp Nou continues as soon as the final whistle is blown.