Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu finds his fate in Lionel Messi’s hands yet again… if Argentine fires his side to LaLiga glory it will allow him to extend his reign briefly (and it’s no surprise he wants to tie star down to lifetime deal!)
- Barcelona sit two points ahead of arch rivals Real Madrid in the La Liga title race
- Barcelona begin their 11-match dash to win La Liga away at Mallorca on Saturday
- President Josep Bartomeu will be desperate for Lionel Messi to work his magic
- If Messi fires them to LaLiga glory, Bartomeu can step safely into his final year
Eleven games for an 11th title. As Barcelona begin their 11-match dash to win the league on Saturday away at Mallorca they will once again be relying on Lionel Messi, who is going for his 11th league winner’s medal.
There have been various bumps in the road during the last three months of inactivity caused by the pandemic but if Messi makes smooth the path to the Liga crown, president Josep Bartomeu can step safely into his final year in the position. It’s little wonder then that he is dreaming of convincing Messi to sign for life at the club before this year is out.
The clause in Messi’s contract that allows him to leave on a free transfer this summer expired this month. There is some dispute about when exactly. Some believe it was June 1, others claimed it was last Wednesday, June 10th. Either way it passed without him notifying the club he wanted to exercise it.
Barcelona will be turning to Lionel Messi again to prove the difference in the LaLiga title race
Messi and his Barcelona team-mates hold a two-point lead over Real Madrid with 11 games left
The No 10 is staying and the next task for the club now is to open talks with his father Jorge to make sure in January, Barcelona are not back to where they were before with Messi running down his deal which will end in 2021.
A ‘lifetime contract’ in theory keeps him at the club until he retires, at least, from football in Europe.
Messi’s father Jorge is in lockdown in Rosario, Argentina, but the club are keen to open lines of communication via video link if they have to. The deal on the table will be the sort of ‘lifetime contract’ that Andres Iniesta signed with Barcelona in 2017.
Despite the grandiose title, these contracts are largely symbolic. Iniesta was allowed to leave at the end of every season providing he informed the club a month before the end of each campaign. He joined Japan side Kobe Vissel a year later.
Messi’s lifetime deal is likely to be very similar allowing him to consider his future at the end of every campaign. But it will set out the intention, at least, for the player to finish his days at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu once again finds his fate in the Argentine star’s hands
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is gunning for his 11th La Liga crown with the Spanish giants
‘Life will never be the same again,’ he said in a recent interview in reference to the coronavirus and its effect on football but he could easily have been talking about Barcelona’s future when he retires.
He remains the most important man at the club both in terms of them maintaining a two-point lead over Real Madrid with 11 games left this season, and in terms of them dealing with the huge financial fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic.
Barcelona launched a new digital streaming platform ‘Barca TV+’ last week. The club hope subscription take-up from its global fan base of the Netflix-style service will help it meet its digital department’s hopes of tripling the 100m euros (£90m) it makes annually.
Messi was the face of the launch with the image of him wearing the captain’s armband pointing back at the Barca TV+ logo used to push the new product.
This has not been his greatest season but he has still scored 19 goals – two more than Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale combined at Real Madrid – and he is on course to win the ‘Pichichi’ top scorer prize in Spain for an unprecedented seventh time.
Barca will hope Messi signs a ‘lifetime contract’ similar to what Andres Iniesta penned in 2017
The club always try to talk down the potential dent to their global appeal when Messi stops playing but they know it’s there. Bartomeu has gone on record to say he hopes Messi will still be in the team when they inaugurate the new stadium.
Now that work on the 700 million euros (£628m) revamp of the Nou Camp has had to be put on hold because of the coronavirus crisis, putting back the original 2023 completion date, that looks unlikely.
Aside from all the other problems that have appeared so far this year – a public falling out between Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal being just one of them – older dilemmas remain. The club still don’t know what to do with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele who they spent over 300m euros (£269m) on but are now trying to loan out.
If Barcelona fail to win anything in this strangest of seasons all the old problems will resurface. President Bartomeu knows the league title will buy him time going into his final year as president.
Once again he finds his fate in Messi’s hands. It is little wonder he wants his fingerprints on a lifetime contract that he hopes Messi will sign.
Barcelona’s global appeal will take a big hit when Messi eventually leaves the Nou Camp
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