Messi update: The power of Lionel Messi is immense, but his request to leave Barcelona has not engineered change at the top of the club… yet.
Embattled Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is denying reports that he’s decided to resign after the club’s greatest player asked for a transfer on Tuesday.
Messi’s request has, according to The Athletic, already led to a conversation between the megastar and his former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, who of course is the current manager of Manchester City.
The rub for City is that while they’d love to make a move happen, Guardiola and City’s hierarchy do want to look like villains to Barcelona’s faithful. Guardiola is one of the Catalonia’s giants as both a player and manager.
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There are also questions whether Messi is free to leave his contract. It has an exit clause that can be used at the end of the season. Barcelona maintains that that expired in June when the season was set to end, while Messi believes it expires at the end of Barcelona’s pandemic-extended season. That happened
Connecting the dots between Messi’s displeasure and Bartomeu’s recent years in charge of the club is not difficult, and this past season was a nightmare on and off the field.
Barcelona was bounced out of the Copa del Rey at the quarterfinals and Spanish Super Cup at the semifinals before throwing away La Liga’s lead to rivals Real Madrid and being pounded 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals earlier this month.
Tensions got high enough that Bartomeu was seemingly answering questions about his and Messi’s future on a weekly basis, going as far as to guarantee the Argentine would finish his career at the Camp Nou.
[ MORE: Why Messi to Man City makes sense ]
It had been reported since November that Messi would not exercise his option to leave the club, but there were numerous reasons to think he might rethink things given problems at Barcelona.
There has been chaos in the board room and players including Messi were angry to be thrown under the proverbial bus when Ernesto Valverde was fired early this year.
Notably, he called Barcelona “home” but noted “weird things happening” at the Camp Nou. Fortunately, the club announced that an independent inspector cleared Barca’s hierarchy of wrongdoing after allegations that a third-party company contracted to the club tried to smear current and former club legends on social media.