Barcelona superstar and arguably the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi, has shocked the world by submitting a transfer request to Barcelona after two decades at the club and 16 years in the first team.
Messi, who holds the all-time record for Balon D’Or, winning the title for best player in the world on no fewer than six occasions, has won a litany of collective honours with the club that he joined from Newell’s Old Boys when he was just 13-years-old. However, his legendary spell with the Catalan giants now appears to be coming to an end, in the wake of Barcelona’s 8-2 defeat to freshly crowned European champions, Bayern Munich.
According to Marca, Messi met with club legend and new Barcelona coach, Ronald Koeman last Friday, where the Dutch coach informed him that the special privileges he’s enjoyed within the Barcelona setup for more than a decade have now come to an end, demanding that he must show full commitment to the cause of rebuilding a broken team that won no trophies this season.
The meeting has not gone down well with the Argentinian and Marca has also reported that he has now informed the club that he wants to leave and intends to activate a clause in his contract that allows him to depart the club at the end of each season. However, with a year left on his contract, the club is disputing that the clause had to be activated by June 10, but with the extension of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Messi will contest this, with FIFA having made provisions for ad hoc extensions and changes to other players’ contracts around the world.
Nonetheless, Barcelona are doing whatever they can to avoid Messi leaving on a free, especially after the club’s fans protested at the Camp Nou last night, calling for President Josep Bartomeu to resign. Bartomeu’s management of the club in recent years is thought to be one of the primary reasons for Messi’s departure.
Manchester City, Inter Milan and Champions League finalists, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly the favourites to secure his signature and the only clubs that can realistically afford the move in the midst of the financial impact of the COVID-19 enforced restrictions on football clubs around Europe. A move to Manchester City would reunited Messi with former coach Pep Guardiola, a move to Inter Milan would reignite his rivalry with Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A and a move to PSG would reunited him with former teammate Neymar, who Barcelona failed to bring back to the club last season.
When all is said and done, whether Messi stays or goes and where he goes if he departs Barcelona is unquestionably going to be the transfer story of the off-season and Bartomeu’s legacy will forever be that he’s the president that let the greatest player of all time depart the club.
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