It was a match made in heaven, but it could be time for Messi to move on from Barcelona

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No modern athlete is more associated with a great club than Messi has been with Barcelona these past 20-odd years

Long before he got to the senior team, he was already a legend. Once he arrived at 17 years old, he shot well past the hype. His tenure has coincided with the most successful run in the Catalan club’s history.

You wanted relief from COVID? This is it. Not that it’s going to help in a public-health sense. But it’s all anyone in the world will be talking about for weeks.Messi has been souring on Barcelona for most of 2020. This year, a long, slow decline became a malaise. A couple of months later, Messi was back at it. A tempest had arisen over player wage cuts in the midst of the pandemic. Messi blamed the club’s board for inflaming the situation. Once again, he did it publicly.When Barcelona lost the league, Messi got on TV and called his team “inconsistent” and “weak.”The cause of all this bickering was the club’s quality. At 33, Messi remains an irresistible force.

Within hours, another manager had been fired. Then Abidal walked the plank . The new manager, Ronald Koeman, held emergency talks with his one-man band.“Messi is Barcelona,” Koeman said afterward. “And Barcelona is Messi.”Submitting a formal request for transfer is an extraordinary measure in soccer. It almost always ends one way – with the player getting what he wants. And no player has ever had as much leverage as this one.

He reportedly believes he can cancel his deal at will so long as he publicly states his intentions. Which he’s just done. He would then be free to move anywhere he likes without a transfer fee.

 

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