Messi or Barcelona? A conundrum for fans
Messi or Barcelona? A conundrum for fans

All Barcelona fans knew, deep down in their conscience, that a day like this would come. A day when the club's greatest ever asset would demand to leave. A day when Lionel Messi would have had enough.

Alas, that day was close, closer than ever, but Messi decided to stay at the club that gave him everything. The Argentine never intended to depart on bad terms.

Despite wanting to leave so badly, Messi decided to stay and see out his contract at Barcelona till June 2021.

That brings about a bittersweet conundrum for both, Messi and Barcelona fans.

Messi fans across the world believe Barcelona forced their greatest asset to stay. The 33-year-old, who is in the final years of his career, wants to win titles, compete at the highest level, but not at Camp Nou.

And who would blame him? After Turin, Rome, Liverpool, and now Lisbon, if Messi wants to leave Barcelona, he has earned that right to do so.

If rival skipper Sergio Ramos can understand that, why can't president Josep Bartomeu?

Bartomeu, according to Messi, reneged on his promise to let the Argentine leave the Catalan club at the end of the 2019/20 season.

“I thought and was sure that I was free to leave, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not,” said Messi as quoted by Goal.com.

“Now they cling to the fact that I did not say it before June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for La Liga in the middle of this awful coronavirus and this disease altered all the season."

Barcelona fans, meanwhile, argue by stating the age old quote: "No player is bigger than the club."

Yes, that is true, and Messi understood that. There was only one way out of the club for Messi - taking Barcelona to court. But, Messi did not take that route as Barcelona is the 'club of his life'.

After all that Messi has done for the club, surely he has the right to decide.

Despite all the problems his family would face with moving to an entire new place, Messi had decided to leave, and he had his wife Antonella Roccuzzo, who, with all the 'pain of her soul', stood by his side.

But, again, Messi decided to stay, because Barcelona did not want him to leave.

“And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club. Now I am going to continue in the club because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the €700 million (£624m/$823m) clause, and that this is impossible,” Messi said.

The 33-year-old, for the remaining 10 months, will train under new coach Ronald Koeman who replaced Quique Setien after Barcelona's worst ever defeat - 8-2 against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals at Lisbon.

Barcelona, after a trophyless 2019/20 campaign, is now confident of a new project backed by Koeman.

Although Messi believes 'there has been no project or anything for a long time', and that the club 'juggles and covers holes as things go by', he is going to stay and give his best at the club of his life.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in