Is Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona?

Ikem Nnadi ’23

Lionel Messi is widely regarded as one of the best international football players of all time. Born and raised in Rosario, Argentina, Messi has always been naturally gifted. 

At the age of 13, he and his father flew to Barcelona, Spain to join the local club’s youth academy, La Masia. Ever since that day in 2000, Messi has had a legendary career, securing a club record of 33 trophies, and scoring 655 goals for the senior team over 17 years. Despite all of this success at FC Barcelona, Messi is disgruntled, and will likely leave the club this summer.

After three successive Champions League embarrassments against Roma, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich, Messi has started to lose his passion for the team, and I don’t think anyone can blame him. He went from having arguably the best club team in history in 2011 to a team that can’t even hold three-goal leads.

This sudden decline in on-field performance would demoralize anyone, let alone the best player in the world. This worrying situation was made 10 times worse thanks to Josep Bartomeu, FC Barcelona’s ex-president. After numerous falling outs, the transfers of Neymar and Luis Suarez, plus high-profile contract disagreements, Bartomeu finally resigned on October 27 of last year.

While this made Messi happier, a recent leak of his 673 million USD (847 million CAD) contract has led many to believe Bartomeu had something to do with it. Reports everywhere have said that Messi will pursue legal action and that Barcelona will do the same. However, Messi only has a few months left on his contract, so that means other clubs can approach him in the summer. 

Despite the extravagant fee Messi is synonymous with, he still has his suitors. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester City have been heavily linked with him and have the funds necessary to complete the transfer. Players on both teams have been fueling the fire, with PSG’s Angel Di Maria talking about the situation in multiple interviews. 

So, while Messi isn’t tied down to Barcelona completely, the club has been his life since the age of 13, and many want him to be a one-club player just like Francesco Totti, Paolo Maldini, and Ryan Giggs. Messi has barely spoken about leaving, but in an interview from September 2020, he said he planned on leaving due to Bartomeu and the direction Barcelona was heading in. 

Messi also said he’s been considering leaving for a while but didn’t want to make a rash decision due to his love for the club and its fans. With all of this in mind, it looks more and more likely that Leo Messi will finally leave FC Barcelona this summer. He’ll be turning 34 in June and wants to win a few more trophies before bowing out of the game.

Barcelona can’t guarantee that as they’re in the process of rebuilding. Whether Messi stays with the sinking ship or not? Only time will tell.

Photo credits: (Messi kicking), Nick Potts/Zuma Press (Messi portrait)

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