Things at FC Barcelona have definitely reached a boiling point.
The club looks to be in total disarray and the 8-2 hammering Bayern Munich dished out to them in the Champions League was the final straw for Josep Maria Bartomeu.
After the humiliating defeat, the president sacked manager Quique Setien and Eric Abidal announced he will be leaving his director post as well.
This week, Bartomeu confirmed that Ronald Koeman will be taking over as head coach for the new season.
Nothing is official so far, but it does seem that the Dutch specialist will finally get his dream job but will he be able to rely on Lionel Messi?
The president seems to be adamant that their Argentinian superstar is not going anywhere but with all the turmoil surrounding the club right now nothing can be viewed as a certainty.
So, this begs the question:
Will Barcelona Be Able to Keep Hold of Messi?
I firmly believe that Messi’s intentions have always been to play in Barcelona for the entirety of his career but it’s also true that the current reality may push him out of the club.
Barcelona has accumulated a very heavy debt and they are struggling to clear out their wage bill. Things on the pitch have also downgraded significantly as the team lost the La Liga title to Real Madrid and crashed out of the Champions League.
There seems to be no clear plan as to how Bartomeu will steady the ship and Messi’s recent public reactions confirm that his uncertainty of whether things can pick up soon.
Bringing in an experienced manager like Ronald Koeman is a step in the right direction but the issues are far deeper than that.
The president’s decisions over the summer will be imperative as I feel that if Messi doesn’t get the right assurances, he may well end his ties with the club.
Which Clubs Can Realistically Go for Messi?
Naturally, it will take a lot to get Messi to another club, so if he does set his mind on leaving, it will be very interesting to see where he can end up.
I doubt that too many European teams can entice him, in fact, I can only think of two that might have a slight chance of getting in the mix.
Paris Saint-Germain has the financial muscle and they will certainly be sniffing around if Messi suddenly becomes available. It could be the final piece the club needs to get their hands on the Champions League trophy but we have no clue whether the player will want to head a project like that.
Another possible destination could be Manchester City. We all know that the Argentine has a great relationship with Pep Guardiola and the player has hinted in the past that competing in the Premier League at some point is something he has considered over the years.
There are, of course, a few other options like going back to his native country or trying his luck in the MLS but I feel Messi wants to stay in the top leagues for at least a few more years.
Conclusion and Final Words
We will have to wait and see how all this will pan out but in any case, Messi’s exit has never looked more likely.
It will be very hard for a club to sign him as he still has a deal that runs through to 2021 but if Bartomeu and his board can’t turn things around quickly, the Argentine may decide to force a move, especially if the right offer comes around.
It would be a sad ending to one of football’s most amazing chapters, but the chances of Messi leaving are looking bigger with each passing day and there is a lot of work ahead for the club president if he wants to keep hold of his superstar.