Frustration with failure led Messi to seek Barcelona exit - GulfToday

Frustration with failure led Messi to seek Barcelona exit


Barcelona’s Lionel Messi said on Friday that he will stay at Barcelona, insisting he could never go to court against “the club of his life”. Reuters / File

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi and Barcelona forged an extraordinary winning combination for more than a decade until cracks in the foundations of the soccer dynasty grew, leading the Argentine great to doubt his future at the club.

Now that Messi is staying for one more year, after an unseemly dispute with club executives, one clear outcome looks like being an awkward season ahead at Camp Nou.

The marriage between player and club appeared perfect. Messi brought one-of-a-kind talent for darting past defenders, along with brilliant passing and scoring goal after spectacular goal. Barcelona provided the coaching minds, world-class teammates, and a playing style perfectly suited to help Messi blossom into arguably the best player the game has ever seen.

But the team’s dominant form dipped as seasons went by and Barcelona’s 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich last month in the Champions League quarterfinals extinguished Messi’s flickering hopes that he could turn things around at his boyhood club. It was the worse defeat in Messi’s career.

After several days of silence, Messi made public what he called the “painful decision” to inform Barcelona that the time had come to leave the club, his home since he was 13. Tellingly, after six Ballon d’Or trophies, a club record 634 goals, and 34 titles, Messi felt his best chances for success lie elsewhere.

Barcelona demanded that he finish the contract that runs until June 2021. It claimed that the clause invoked by Messi to leave had expired on June 10 and said that he had to pay a buyout clause of 700 million euros (around $830 million) if he wanted to depart now. It was a fee too high even for Messi, now 33 and fighting off the twilight of his golden career.

Messi argued that his contract allowed him to opt-out after the extended season but relented on Friday when he said that he would stay since “I could never imagine taking Barca to court since it is the club I love.”

Now many fans hope new Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman can convince Messi to stay beyond this season.

In an interview with on Friday - his only public comment since the Bayern defeat - Messi gave no clear indication about his future.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has said that he wants Messi to sign a new contract. But the club is to hold elections in March to replace Bartomeu and it’s unclear if Bartomeu’s “lame duck” season helps or hurts the club’s chances of retaining Messi.

Messi has publicly said he feels betrayed by Bartomeu, who according to Messi had promised him that he could leave for free this summer.


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