In a world of nonstop social media chatter and 24-hour cable news, Lionel Messi proved that the term “Breaking News” still has some meaning with recent reports that the Argentine has formally notified Barcelona of his desire to leave the club this summer. With a few days respite between the Champions League final and kick-off of top European leagues, social media platforms broke into a veritable frenzy as fans across the world instantly got something to dream about during the dog days of summer.
By Greg McKay
Reports that Messi is seeking a move away from the Camp Nou raise a host of questions, first and foremost of which is what the end goal is for the player. The best footballer on the planet has shown in recent years an astute understanding of his power and worth in the world of football.
Though a genuine desire to move on from Barcelona is plausible, it would not come as a surprise if the player felt he’d exhausted other options for generating change amongst a Barcelona hierarchy he has openly criticized in recent months and putting one foot through the exit door is the only way to force an overhaul.
Regardless of the motive, the move sets up an intriguing battle between the boardroom and a player who feels he has carried the club without adequate support for far too long. Though Barca fans will instinctively support their star player, fair questions will be asked whether giving in to a single player’s demands makes sense for a club the size of Barcelona.
Other mega clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid regularly prove the rule that no player is bigger than the club. If Barcelona succumb to a sort of power player by their aging Argentine superstar, the slogan “more than a club” could soon be supplemented with “but less than a player”.
Ultimately, if Messi does choose to leave the safe confines of Barcelona, the list of possible destinations is long and diverse. Manchester City and PSG were noted as early as last week, while Inter Milan has long been thought to be in the race should Messi ever leave. Even Major League Soccer was throwing its name in the hat almost immediately.
But, finding a club where it really makes sense to bring in such a unique talent could prove more challenging than just securing the financing needed for what will likely be a significant transfer fee and wages.
For a team like Manchester City on the cusp of European glory and with deep pockets, the temptation to sign Messi will be significant, though bringing in a player like Messi risks throwing off a delicate balance within the squad for a player that may not fit as nicely with Guardiola’s tactics today as he did ten years ago.
A more likely destination is a club that has less to lose and is looking to leapfrog the competition, whether that be PSG in European football or Inter Milan in Italy. At the end of the day, any team that signs the mercurial Argentine will need to grapple with the fact that he hasn’t found any real success away from Barcelona and seems to struggle somewhat when a team does not cater to his talents.
For football fans around the world who were enjoying those few days of quiet following a few months of almost non-stop football, the news of a possible Messi move will surely have eyes tied to newsfeeds until the situation in Barcelona is resolved.