Messi’s Turn To struggle!


Lionel Messi’s comments after the Ballon D’or 2014 defeat to Cristiano Ronaldo have led to several assumptions.

At the awards ceremony, Messi declared, “I don’t know where I’ll be next year. I always said that I would finish my career at Barcelona and then at Newell’s (his hometown club in Argentina).”

He surprisingly ended by quoting his eternal rival, “As Cristiano (Ronaldo) said recently, football has many twists and anything can happen.”

Is Messi hinting at a confirmation of a rumoured desire to leave Barcelona? If so, will that be a smart move at this stage in his career?

Messi is 27 years old and Barcelona is going through turbulent times at the moment. There is a reported internal crisis, fuelled by the sacking of Sports Director Andoni Zubizarreta and the resignation of his assistant, Carlos Puyol, immediately afterwards.

Messi is rumoured to be unhappy at the Nou Camp. He was recently left out of the starting line up in a La Liga match against Real Sociedad and missed a training session the following day with “a stomach bug”.

Impacting a possible move is the fact that Barcelona are banned from new player acquisitions until 2016, due to their infringement on youth transfer laws enforced by Fifa.

Should Messi move?

Barcelona is not the same without Messi, that is a known fact, but will Messi be the same without Barcelona?

As Barcelona tore apart a defensive-minded Atletico Madrid (at the Nou Camp) I saw a Messi I have rarely seen in recent years. The last time I saw Messi work so hard off the ball in the interest of his team was when Pep Guardiola was still coach of Barcelona.

He worked so hard to defend that he, unfortunately, gave away a penalty! I bet most of you were surprised.

Several top players have struggled on arrival at Barcelona under Messi’s reign. A waning Ronaldinho was shipped off to Milan to liberate operational room for Messi; Ibrahimovic confirmed that he was starved of supply and room to perform due to Messi’s influence at Barcelona; and the constant change in Luis Suarez’s positioning is kind of different from the outright freedom he enjoyed at Liverpool.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with these situations because, if you have an “extra-terrestrial” player like Messi in your team, everyone has to make sacrifices to get him playing at his best. When he is at his best, you will be the world’s best.

However, should Messi leave Barcelona for Chelsea, Paris St Germain or Manchester City, will all the established players there be willing to bend to the new king as others were forced to do at Barcelona?

Let me take you back to the 2010 and 2006 World Cups in South Africa and Germany. Argentina struggled and Lionel Messi was way below the standard we were used to seeing him play at Barcelona.

He was not short of world-class teammates but these stars were not willing to do the dirty work for the golden kid and it showed in their gestures towards him.

Fast forward to 2014 in Brazil and we saw an Argentine team made up of nine players sacrificing their personal glory in the interest of Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria. Though some contested the decision, Messi was voted the Best Player of the Tournament and Argentina came one shot closer to lifting the World Cup, only losing in the final to Germany.

My point is, if Messi is unhappy he should leave, if there is a club willing to pay the over €200 million being asked by Barcelona. But he should only leave if he is assured of going to a club where almost everyone will sacrifice for him to be in the pole position, and where at least two assistants (like Iniesta and Xavi in Barcelona or Angel di Maria in Argentina) will support him.

Once Di Maria was injured in Brazil, Messi was never the same.

Barcelona, on the other hand, cannot afford to lose Messi in the summer. This will be suicidal as they cannot reinforce in the market.

Messi’s choices are limited due to the transfer tag and because no other league, short of the Barclays Premier League, will guarantee him the publicity and followership to subsidise the image rights and sponsorship that he enjoys now in La Liga?

This is a “Messi headache in the works” and don’t be surprised if Messi just stays put at Barcelona after all.


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January 14, 2015 9:39 am Published by

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