Messi’s record-breaking stay in Catalonia will extend for at least one more season it was confirmed on Friday as the Barcelona captain – and arguably the greatest player in their history – announced on Friday evening that he had withdrawn his request to leave the club.
However, if Barcelona fans were looking for Messi to make some sort of reaffirmed commitment to the club he has represented for 20 years, he stopped short of that in an interview – saying that the club’s president Josep Bartomeu went back on his word to allow him to leave at the end of last season.
So, with the forthcoming season now looking to be little more than a farewell tour before he considers to leave the club on a free transfer, as guaranteed in his contract, next season, football fans have had mixed feelings at the conclusion to one of the summer’s most seismic transfer sagas.
Some fans, though, are predictably relieved that the club’s talisman will remain at the Camp Nou for the upcoming season, even if it appears to be little more than a stay of execution for a story which appears certain to raise its head after the completion of the 2020/21 season.
Other fans appear to more concerned as to what this means for the future of Barcelona, after Messi slammed the club as having “no project” and accused them of rudderless displays in last season’s Champions League as part of his wider disillusionment at how one of the world’s biggest sporting franchises is being run.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu is scheduled to up for re-election early next year but his campaigning for the role will have suffered a grave blow following Messi’s savaging of him in the interview in which he confirmed his stay.
So, ultimately Barcelona fans – as well as Bartomeu – got what they wanted. Lionel Messi is staying. But the president will likely soon see exactly the cost of his public staring contest with the world’s best player.
Sure, Lionel Messi blinked first, but one suspects that the shockwaves of this earth-shaking drama at the Camp Nou will be felt for some time yet.