Lionel Messi dropped the bombshell on Barcelona earlier this week that the club have been dreading since their Champions League exit – he wants to leave the Catalan giants.
The Argentinian genius communicated his will to the Barcelona board through a simple fax and the unthinkable of Messi leaving the club has become a real possibility.
Lionel Messi believes that he can leave Barcelona on a free transfer despite his contract expiring next year. The Catalan giants insist that the clause in his contract was only valid if he had communicated his decision in May.
The player’s camp believe that due to the season getting extended, the validity of the clause should have been extended until 31st August.
But these are just details and the real story is still that Lionel Messi wants to leave the club where he has spent all his career and he was expected to retire at the Nou Camp.
However, the decision has not come out of the blue and since that disastrous night against Bayern Munich, rumours have been doing the rounds that the Argentinian was at the end of his wits with the Barcelona board.
A number of factors led the player wanting to leave the Blaugrana.
#1 A tetchy relationship with the Barcelona board
While Lionel Messi remained cordial with the Barcelona board and posed for pictures with the current president Josep Maria Bartomeu, there has never been any warmth in the relationship between the club’s most important player and the hierarchy.
The Argentine has never taken to the way Bartomeu and the current board have been working behind the scenes since taking charge of the club in 2015. Messi has mostly kept his counsel out of love for Barcelona despite not sharing the vision of the board and their president in the last five years.
The 33-year-old felt that Barcelona needed a radical change after the embarrassing defeat against Bayern Munich but nothing of that sort happened. Bartomeu remains in charge and the board took the decision to bring in a middling coach in Ronald Koeman.
Lionel Messi wanted a radical shift in direction but Barcelona remained more of the same.
#2 The departure of Ernesto Valverde and the appointment of Quique Setien
Ernesto Valverde was not one of the most popular managers in Barcelona’s history but he still won the league last year and the Catalan giants were at the top of the table when he was sacked in January.
Lionel Messi has had a solid relationship with all the Barcelona managers since he made his debut for the club in 2004. He was in harmony with Valverde too, despite the latter’s embarrassing failures in the Champions League and the club’s decision to sack him was a personal blow to the Argentine.
The situation was made worse by the Barcelona hierarchy through the appointment of Quique Setien, who neither had the respect of the squad nor Messi.
The most important player at Barcelona almost had a non-existent relationship with the head coach and never rated him or his ability to lead the team.
#3 Lionel Messi didn’t see eye-to-eye with the technical department
For years, Lionel Messi has sat and watched in aghast as the club’s technical department took one disastrous decision after another in recruitment and squandered millions in the transfer market.
The Argentinian was left shocked as season after season, Barcelona’s technical department showed a complete lack of planning on how to build the squad at the Nou Camp.
His relationship with former technical secretary was Eric Abidal was cold and they even traded verbal disagreements in the media.
Messi has had a feeling that the club were getting consumed and destroyed from the inside, and with each passing transfer window, Barcelona became less competitive.
#4 The treatment of Luis Suarez
If Lionel Messi had any doubts whether it would be a good time for him to leave Barcelona at the age of 33 despite the club’s downhill curve, recent events have only helped him to make his decision easier.
The Argentine took the defeat to Bayern Munich as a personal blow to his pride as a player and it affected his state of mind for days as he grappled with what he should be doing next.
But Josep Maria Bartomeu’s actions coupled with the way the club have communicated to Luis Suarez that he is not wanted at the club next season has aggravated the situation.
Suarez is one of the leaders of the Barcelona dressing room and is one of the closest friends of Messi.
The Argentine has been left distressed at the way the club have tried to push a player, who has won four league titles and a Champions League at Barcelona, out of the Nou Camp.
#5 Lionel Messi is not convinced about Ronald Koeman and is running out of time
Lionel Messi has been considering leaving Barcelona for a while but he wanted to make the final call after meeting the new manager Ronald Koeman. The meeting with the Dutchman more or less made up his mind.
Already during the meeting, he told the Barcelona boss that he was more out than in but Koeman’s words did little to suggest that the club would see a quick turnaround in fortunes. At 33, Messi rightly feels if he has to continue to win the big trophies he would have to leave Barcelona.
Barcelona have done little since the Bayern Munich defeat to suggest that a radical overhaul is going to take place.
Messi is neither convinced about the kind of players the club are planning to sign nor does he believe that Koeman is the man who could lead a project that aspires to compete for all the big trophies.