Barcelona (AP) – The joy did not last long at FC Barcelona. Lionel Messi’s decision to remain in second place of the Spanish championship for another season initially brought relief and cheers.
Here and there cava-sparkling wine corks popped, fans celebrated spontaneous parties on the boulevard of Las Ramblas despite Corona and the newspaper “Sport” had a big headline on page one: “He stays!”. But the euphoria quickly gave way to disappointment and worry about the future. The world football player remains, but so do the problems.
Despite being forced by the club to stay – Barça insisted on paying the contracted transfer fee of a reported € 700 million – Messi insisted that he “give everything”. But in the same breath, the 33-year-old teased and distributed many swipes against the boardroom floor over controversial club boss Josep Bartomeu. There is no silence in the Messi soap.
“There hasn’t been a project or anything for a long time. You’re messing around,” accused Messi Bartomeu and colleagues. Sports newspaper “AS” on Saturday quoted members of the board of directors as saying they were “concerned” about the future. A number of unanswered questions remain, which the newspaper “El Mundo” has written down in detail.
Messi’s relationship with new coach Roland Koeman needs to be strengthened. The Dutchman would have indicated to the Argentinian in a first conversation that there would be “no privileges”. In addition, friends of Messi on the team such as Luis Suárez or Arturo Vidal would be sold. And how does the team react when transfer rumors are circulating during the season. Regardless of the fact that national goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen will be out for a long time after knee surgery.
Above all, there is the question of how the fans will react if things don’t go well on the field. Messi could be whistled at the Nou Camp for the first time in 16 years as a professional. The presidential elections announced for spring could be a further disruptive factor.
It really doesn’t look good for the club, who have won ten of the 16 championships and four of their five Champions League triumphs in the 16 years since the beginning of the Messi era. The team needs reinforcement to keep up with the top European clubs. That was clear from the 2: 8 in the premier class against FC Bayern. The top artists around Messi, Suárez, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba get along well in years, the suitcases are empty.
Koeman is said to be playing with the commitments of his countrymen Memphis Depay of Olympique Lyon and Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool FC. Only Philippe Coutinho, who has returned from Munich and who will resume training on Friday four days before the end of his holiday, and especially Ansu Fati, are the only ones to raise hope. The child prodigy made a good debut in the national team against Germany on Thursday.
Fati, who had crowned herself the Champions League’s youngest goalscorer in December in a 2-1 win over Inter Milan, only missed Ángel Zubieta’s age-old record (1936) at Athletic Bilbao by 24 days out of 17 years and 308 days. When Barça went down after the end of the Corona break, he was rarely used by the shot coach Quique Setién.
For now, all eyes are on Messi, who must once again assume the role of the Messiah, the Redeemer. He did not participate in training on Saturday because he had to make up for the skipped Corona test beforehand. Because Sunday is the rest day, he will not be seen again until Monday at the training center of Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. The first test match against third division Nàstic Tarragona is scheduled for Saturday, and the season opener against FC Villarreal on the 29th. Time is running out for Barça.