Barcelona as we know it may soon be a memory. The Messi Era, when each season would reap a golden harvest, is almost over, whichever way you look at it. Messi is 33 now and his negative body language of late suggests a man who is done carrying the club, something he’s had to do on his own since Xavi and Iniesta retired.
Reports from Spain claim Messi has rejected a new contract and plans to leave the club – he’s said repeatedly he would stay for life – at the end of next season. Threat or bluff? Since Messi holds the best hand, he’ll win either way. Where would he go? It’s moot. A Messi-shaped hole in Barcelona would reshape the European football landscape. With hindsight, Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for Juventus set this ball rolling. El Clasico hasn’t had the same allure without their rivalry, that’s certain.
You wouldn’t blame Leo for running away from the Catalan circus. Barca lacks a top-class manager and a clear way of playing. Recent big signings have flopped (Messi might not be blameless). Real Madrid have stabilised since the departure of Ronaldo. There’s a shitshow in the making at the Nou Camp, and Messi realises even he doesn’t have the power to prevent it from happening.
Watch. This. Space.