Barcelona was knocked out by Athletic Bilbao in Copa del Rey quarters on Thursday as Iñaki Williams dispatched the stoppage time winner at San Mamés. The defeat that resulted in a verbal spat of main man Messi with sporting director and former teammate Eric Abidal prompted a call for an emergency meet up for the two (Messi and Abidal) by club’s President Josep Bartomeu. Messi was not ready to put up with Abidal’s accusation that him and company had on purpose downed the tools to trigger the sacking of former manager Ernesto Valverde. Messi in the public war of words responded by saying that Abidal should either name the players or be quiet.
According to the reports, the Argentine’s contract with the club that expires in 2021 has a clause that allows him to leave Catalans for free this summer as long as he informs the club May 2020. Defender Jordi Alba came out for the off-field defense of his skipper following the shock defeat to Bilbao.
“Abidal was a player, he’s not an outsider, he has to know how a player feels in the locker room,” the Spaniard told newspaper, Sport. “Those of us who are facing the music are the players and coaching staff.
“We already get enough s**t thrown at us from the outside, so we shouldn’t be throwing s**t at ourselves. We should all be helping each other.”
For years, Messi, 32 regarded widely as a soccer goat has maintained his role as a binding force for the putrefying Barca both on the pitch and in the dressing rooms.
His left-foot geniuses have always glued the cracks and didn’t allow them much to open in Barca’s fort over the years. Around a billion dollars investment following Neymar’s shock departure to PSG in 2017 have not helped the redemption. Griezmann the latest addition in the high-profile signings that include the likes of Coutinho, Malcom and Dembele, has not been up as per his standards. The President and the board are also under consistent criticism for years.
Outdated fashion for planning and recruitment has not met with success following the retirement of its homegrown vintage duo Iniesta and Xavi who with their midfield heroics would conquer all on demand.
The discontent is imminent and quite understandable as the club has failed to bring home the UCL trophy for last five years. The embarrassment becomes even bigger considering it has in its camp the evergreen goat the game has witnessed.
According to Marca Abidal’s Tuesday statements and Messi was exploded by the former teammate and Sporting director and now has grievances and reason to ditch the Barcelona. However, the Spanish publisher, newspaper Sport to whom Abidal made the toxic comments reported that Abidal’s dismissal was never on the table and Bartomeu following a two-hour meeting with the two has able to diffuse the situation. Sport further added that after talking to the Argentinean on phone, Bartomeu believes that the uncalled-for crisis and the aftermath of it is absolutely reconcilable.
The purported destination for Messi in case he exit’s the Catalans could be Manchester City, the EPL giants that could realistically afford his wages – reported by football leaks to be in the region of $155m over five years with bonuses included. With his ex-Boss Guardiola in charge of the Manchester side, it becomes more interesting if the split turns into reality. The weak case of his trade to City has already had an episode when the club infamously tried to bring him on its roster in 2008 after earlier welcoming its new super rich owners.
Messi means business and Bartomeu and Barcelona would in no way like to lose the living legend at a time when the team with the new boss Quique Setien is struggling to make a mark after the departure of Coutinho, flopping of Frenchman Griezmann and sidelining of Suarez and Dembele. Once again, all eyes are on the Immortal Messi as Blaugrana has once again put all its eggs in one basket.