AThe next day there was nothing new to learn from Lionel Messi. For FC Barcelona, sporting director Ramón Planes said in the early afternoon: “We are not considering leaving.” Officials sometimes have to say such things in such situations. But everyone else can take it into account, and the club-related newspaper “Sport” read something like this: “The desert. Bitterness. Anger. A future without a future ”.
Messi is said to be firm in his decision, which he faxed to the club on Tuesday evening; he will go. After 20 years, a dream marriage in football is about to divorce, and next to all emptiness the fans of FC Barcelona are concerned with the question of how dirty it will get, where there was once so much love.
Signature on a napkin
On December 14, 2000, at a meal with Messi’s father at the tennis club on Barcelona’s Montjuïc mountain, club officials confirmed by signing a napkin that they would sign 13-year-old Lionel for the club’s junior school.
Messi, who was short at the time, got the hormone treatment that no one back home in Argentina could afford, and the rest is history. Among other things: 634 goals, 34 titles, six awards as world footballer and a new form of hero worship in football, when up to 99,000 people in the largest stadium in Europe bowed to him with long Meeeessi calls like before a god.
Now you’ve landed off the napkin at the fax. And with the lawyers. Messi informed the club that he is drawing a clause allowing him to leave Barça for free this summer – a year before his record deal, which is worth around 100 million euros gross annually, expires.
A case for lawyers
The deadline for announcing the exit was actually June 10: one and a half weeks after the planned end of the club season. But the Messi camp argues that the postponement of the pandemic season has also pushed the deadline back accordingly.
Barça’s lawyers see it differently and emphasize that he would have to pay the fixed penalty of 700 million euros for a termination at this point in time. But what’s the point? Should the club get involved in a legal dispute with its icon? Who everyone in the club had to pay homage to by law and always as “the best player in history”? “We cannot have a public dispute between Messi and Barça, neither side deserves it,” said Sport Director Planes yesterday.
In club management, the tendency should be to try to reach an agreement about what can still be agreed on – i.e. a decent transfer to another club with a transfer fee, which of course cannot be 700 million, but at least the club’s strained coffers still something could relieve.
It’s almost the most optimistic scenario as Messi seems to be playing his cards mercilessly. Barça’s unfortunate President Josep Maria Bartomeu is too weak and discredited to even begin to afford an open conflict with the frustrated club hero.
At the last home games before the Corona crisis, he was faced with a storm of indignation from the stands. Since then there was another lost championship, the 2: 8 against FC Bayern and now the Messi cause. If the Camp Nou were open to the public – a hurricane would sweep Bartomeu away.
For the time being, there were minor protests in front of the stadium gates, calls for resignation from the opposition and the announcement of a no-confidence vote by the “Manifest Blaugrana” platform. You would need the signature of 15 percent of the club members.
In March 2021, Bartomeu’s reign will end anyway, he will not be allowed to run after two terms in office and he would hardly get a vote. After a number of scandals, management changes and wrong decisions, he is likely to remain forever as the president Messi went under.
Low point of an era that began in early 2014, when Bartomeu’s foster father Sandro Rosell had to resign due to disreputable contractual arrangements when signing the Brazilian Neymar, and which seemed to experience its greatest humiliation in the summer of 2017 when the same Neymar then duped the club with his move to Paris .
So now the supposedly unthinkable – and Barça is once again there as a club where things are done badly: paying someone by far the highest salary in football history and still granting them a one-sided exit clause, you have to first get it. That such a fax does not even stay secret for half a day, too.
Like Messi’s doubts after his first conversation with the new coach Ronald Koeman last week, the player’s camp probably again put through the existence of the letter to the press; The only thing left to do was to confirm receipt and the rumored content.
Messi has been attributed an unusually large amount of power over the club and its environment for years: The statement has always annoyed him, but it doesn’t make it any less true. A team and a player have never been so spoiled as the generation that enraptured the football world ten years ago under coach Pep Guardiola.
The captain of those years, Carles Puyol, involuntarily demonstrated this on Tuesday evening when he commented on the events that were so traumatic for the fans with the words: “Respect and admiration, Leo. All my support, mate ”- without specifying whether he meant Messi’s lifetime achievement or his departure.
Camouflaged volleys on Bartomeu, of course. Just as, conversely, under his leadership, an internet company paid for by the club used fake accounts against club legends (“Barçagate”). But an association that lets its domestic political struggles slide to extremes loses pride and self-respect.
Even if this FC Barcelona has existed for 121 years and in fact it was often “més que un club”, “more than a club”, as he claims. Even if Johan Cruyff worked here, at times also Diego Maradona, and the club was one of the largest in the world well before Puyol and yes, even before Messi – in the hands of an oversized superstar and weak officials, Barça had seemed insubordinately small and insubordinate for years nervous.
After the 2: 8 against Bayern Bartomeu then brutally tore the wheel in the opposite direction. The well-known uncompromising Koeman was supposed to catch up on the upheaval that had been missed for years with a mallet – flanked by a usually clumsy president who publicly announced the (few) player names that should not be up for debate. Messi was one of them, but his bosom pal and strike partner Luis Suárez was not. When Koeman gave the Uruguayan in a short phone call on Monday, as requested, the last domino fell for Messi.
He is said to have been little taken with his own conversation with Koeman last week. “The time of privileges is over,” threatened the Dutchman. The new coach said in public: “I only want to work with people who want to be here. If you don’t want to be here, talk to the club. ”Lionel Messi did that and the consequences are as drastic as they are incalculable.
As insiders from his environment report, he will not appear for the next corona tests on Sunday or for the start of training for the new season. Last week he is said to have asked his former coach Pep Guardiola about a possible interest from Manchester City. City rivals United and Chelsea as well as Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan are also named as candidates.
Messi, 33, wants to take the plunge into the unknown in the late autumn of his career – and thus waives a proper farewell to the club of his life. His long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid two years ago after winning the Champions League final. Messi’s last game for Barcelona is likely to be 8-2: the biggest disgrace in the club’s history.