As FC Barcelona fans all over the world slowly reel and recover from the chains of mortification or greatest humiliation ever in the team’s history in European competitions, another setback befalls them with a bizarre and shocking news of Lionel Messi declaring his interest to leave Barcelona after spending 20 years at the club.
A news which turned the whole sports world on its head, let alone culés. Reading a statement like this in the past would require you to read it twice, maybe clean your lenses or refresh the page to be sure if its really true. A myth is about to be erazed. The best player ever to grace the sport of football looks like he will leave the club which has been his home for around two decades.
Lionel Messi and Barcelona have always been one unbreakable force. Never in a million years would football fans have thought Messi would be leaving Barça before his retirement, let alone join another European powerhouse.
As the move seems as close as it has ever been, it is time for us fans to endure the decision and evaluate what’s next for the club. The sooner we realise and accept as fans that we going to lose the greatest player in our club’s history, the sooner we can focus on proper rebuilding, a necessary and needful harsh reality. However, Messi’s possible exit from Barça may have its bad and good sides…
The Cons or Bads
Its an undeniable truth that losing a player of Messi’s calibre; arguably the greatest of all time, a club legend, setpieces specialist, prolific goalscorer, creative playmaker, dribling magician, game changer, demigod et al, will definitely be a big blow to any human team.
Messi’s probable exit will inevitably have overarching effect on club emotionally, economically and technically. The club would not only lose a considerable chunk of its fanbase, but it would also lose a lot in shirt sales, market appeals and ticket revenue.
This would eventually trickle down to a loss for the catalona city, which would lose a lot of tourists who come there to witness the G.O.A.T. in action. Barça will eventually lose its fear factor advantage on opposing teams when they play without Messi. Messi’s probable exit would be really hurtful for the image, the quality and the show in LaLiga at large. It will be a big LOSS.
The Pros or Goods
With all the above negatives not withstanding, it is worth noting that when it comes to supporting a club, the club always comes before anything or anyone and not even Lionel Messi supersedes the above notion. While it is disheartening and sickening to contemplate the idea of Messi leaving our noble club, it is necessary and imperative to think about what merits his probable exit can bring;
Firstly, Leo’s possible exit would give the club some much-needed air to breathe economically as far as the club’s huge wage bill is concerned.
FC Barcelona’s wage bill is the highest in the world. It amounts to more than half of the club’s total expenses and undoubtedly, a large chunk of this wage bill amounts to the salary of Lionel Messi.
The alarming wage bill is one of the reasons for the club’s economic struggle during this period of crisis. His proposed exit coupled with that of other targeted senior and high-earning players like Luis Suárez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitić will get the wage bill under control and make it far less scary.
Secondly, El Pulga’s possible exit will solve Barça’s problem of “Messidependencia”, where the general consensus of the club has always been to base the team around Messi creating a high dose of mental slavery among his teammates.
This can’t continue forever. The team has to start from scratch now, move on from that dogma and work on improving the youth and preparing them for the future.
Thirdly, El Enano’s possible exit will help the team to tactically improve defensively. While Messi’s attacking exploits are second to none, his defensive contribution has decreased over the years.
With Messi and Suárez in the picture, Barça essentially defend with nine men behind the ball and when the younger, less proven footballers are given the chance to replace their ageing counterparts, the team will naturally have more energy and zeal to defend and succeed. The pressing intensity and general tempo of Barcelona can finally increase.
Fourthly, should Messi leave, Barcelona will attain positional clarity as a team. Football has moved on from rigid formations and structures into more flexible systems with players occupying spaces with more fluidity resulting in smooth transitions and control of the game.
On the contrary, recent FC Barcelona gaffers have struggled in accommodating Leo in their attacking set ups as he has moved from being that explosive winger in his early days into a quite slow but sure playmaker since his pace and stamina have decreased overtime. With Messi not in the line-up, typical wingers like Ansu Fati, Francisco Trincão or Ousmane Dembélé could finally stretch the opposition to the wing areas.
While others like Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho and the young Pedri could have a better campaign as they could finally occupy their comfort zones which Messi generally dominates in. The central zones would be less crowded, and Barça could hope to obtain numerical superiority throughout the pitch. Who knows? They may be the next Messis.
Last but not least, Messi’s possible exit may solve Barcelona’s leadership deficit under Lionel Messi. FC Barcelona have gone through several humiliations in the last three years at Rome, Anfield and
Lisbon with the captain of the ship on these occasions looking disorganised, confused and in a state of inertia.
Arguably the greatest club side on the planet lacked a charismatic leader as it was vulnerably been dismantled, toyed with like a cat with a dying mouse before it. Puyol has been truly missed and Messi’s possible exit may serve as a recipe for a new crop of proactive and vibrant leadership.
At Barcelona, players have come and go, but never did the culés forget about them, even more than 20 years after their retirement. Joan Gamper, Josep Samitier, László Kubala, Johan Cruyff, Migueli, Ronald Koeman, Pep Guardiola, Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez or Andres Iniesta are all legends anchored in the blaugranas‘ history forever and ever, and the Catalans will always have a soft spot for them.
Messi leaving Barça is acceptable. But Messi leaving Barça without a proper farewell, without a completely packed Camp Nou chanting his name out of their lungs and hearts for the one last time in his presence, is totally unacceptable, distasteful and nauseating.
Lionel Messi leaving Barça does not feel right. It is far from ideal. But, with the situation escalating beyond reversal, it is only right to think about the future and the best interests of the club. Saying farewell to club’s greatest ever player will not be easy, but there’s always some good in goodbye.
Visca el Barça I Visca Catalunya!
Written by: Emmanuel Kwesi Mensah