Lionel Messi has made it very clear he is staying at the Nou Camp reluctantly… the Argentine has agreed an uneasy truce with the Barcelona board after trying to force through Manchester City transfer
- Barcelona fans will forgive Lionel Messi after he attempted to leave the club
- It is unlikely manager Ronald Koeman will be as generous when Messi returns
- The Dutchman will only tolerate those who are fully committed to Blaugrana
- After withering words in his interview, Messi is not fit to wear captain’s armband
As defeats go, Lionel Messi’s failure to force a move to Manchester City will be almost as painful as Barcelona’s 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich.
At least that Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon will now not go down as his last game for the club.
‘My attitude will not change, for all that I wanted to leave. I will give my best,’ he said in the lengthy interview that confirmed he was staying.
Lionel Messi has confirmed he will remain at Barcelona due to his desire to avoid a legal battle
The superstar’s bombshell U-turn was officially announced in an interview on Friday evening
Messi will get no trouble from Barcelona supporters. The vast majority have been given too much enjoyment over the last 15 years to hold a grudge. And those who have turned on him for flirting with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will not be in the stadium to jeer him anyway, as the pandemic continues to keep the public away.
But with team-mates and his new coach Ronald Koeman things might not be as easy.
Until a coronavirus test confirms he is OK to train with the rest of the squad he will work in isolation. But sooner or later he will have to put himself under the orders of Koeman just two weeks after telling him he didn’t want to play for him.
Messi sat down with Goal to discuss his reasons behind his disillusionment with Barcelona
Messi’s desire to avoid a courtroom battle with the club is the main reason behind his decision
At his unveiling, Koeman made no secret of his desire to only work with players who want to be at Barcelona. The Dutch coach knows that the crown weighs heavy. He is a Barca legend who had to navigate the final seasons of his playing career. But as a manager he has built a reputation as a disciplinarian.
There have been suggestions of a desire to ‘do away with certain players’ privileges’. Such whispers imply a crackdown on Messi being viewed at the club as ‘a separate case’ for all that he has achieved.
There could also be an awkward reunion with team-mates who remained, for the most part, silent about his proposed departure.
The captain question will be raised too. It will be one thing to pull on the jersey again, but can he wear the armband? Koeman was already thinking about who his new skipper might be and Marc-Andre ter Stegen was tipped to join Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto as the club’s fourth captain.
Jorge Messi had refuted claims from Barca that his son has a €700m release clause in his deal
Messi spoke often in the interview on Friday of how he believes the team are simply not strong enough to be competitive in the Champions League — hardly a vote of confidence for those around him. His family will be happy. He admitted: ‘When I told my wife and children (about leaving the club), it was a drama. I had the whole family crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona.’
But for Messi the player, it is harder to see positives. At least in January he will be free to negotiate a move without arguments over clauses.
Manchester City may still be an option next year. The club’s hierarchy, including Guardiola, had offered private support to Messi, while publicly being careful never to commit themselves.
The bond with his old coach may have been strengthened. But if he is to play for him again, it will only be after a return to action for Barcelona, the club he had convinced himself he would not play for again.
How that goes remains to be seen.
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