Photo by Philippe Bourhis (See more of Philippe’s work at https://unsplash.com/@iamphilbo)
September 9th, 2020
By: Mishal Goel
I was really expecting to title this blog post “The Decision” and how Messi would take his talents to Manchester City, but that did not happen. Instead Messi opted to stay at Camp Nou to play another season for Barcelona. The entire soccer world, and perhaps the entire sports world, was flipped upside down when this Messi saga began. Throughout the past few weeks, Messi was linked to Manchester City, Juventus, PSG, and Inter Milan. I think it would have been super exciting to watch Messi and Ronaldo team up, but that is not happening for at least 6 months. Also, it would be interesting to see who would take the penalties and free kicks. Maybe they alternate free kicks and switch penalty kick takers once one of them miss? In reality this will never happen, but a boy can dream! After a few weeks of back and forth, he decided to stay at Barcelona because the Barcelona executives determined that Messi’s leave for free deal was no longer valid.
Jorge and Lionel Messi have been battling the release clause legality, but ended up not wanting to take Barcelona to court. COVID-19 is to blame for this 700 million-euro difference. The season was originally supposed to end prior to June 10th, but due to games being postponed, the season ended in August. The buy out clause expired on June 10th (according to Barcelona officials) because of the original season end date. By the letter of the contract, Barcelona is arguing that he would have had to leave in June, but since he didn’t, a team would need to pay the 700 million-euros or wait till the January transfer window to complete a deal.
But what led Messi to want to leave? Well, he wanted out prior to the embarrassing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. That defeat was just the icing on the cake for a decision he was already going to make. Messi has played at Barca since he was 14 years old, so what factors drove his decision?
Some of it has to do with their recent performance in the Champions League. Let’s look at their recent UCL runs since their last win:
- 2016: Quarter-Finals – Lost to Atletico Madrid 2-3
- 2017: Quarter-Finals – Lost to Juventus 0-3
- 2018: Quarter-Finals – Lost to Roma 4-4 (Away Goals)
- Barca was up 4-1 after the first leg
- 2019: Semi-Finals – Lost to Liverpool 3-4
- Barca was up 3-0 after the first leg
- 2020: Quarter-Finals – Lost to Bayern Munich 8-2
- Only one leg was played due to COVID-19 making the match at a neutral ground, where the winner advances
As this shows, they have been awful in international soccer. This leads to the other reason Messi wants out: he does not like many of the moves that were made. Messi was not a fan of Ernesto Valverde being sacked in January nor did he think Barca president, Josep Bartomeu, tried his hardest to land PSG superstar Neymar. There are probably many more reasons Messi wants out of Barca, but the main reason is he wants to win and win at the highest level of international soccer league and Barca isn’t the place to achieve that right now.
What will Messi do within the next few months? How will Barcelona fans react when he returns to the pitch when matches begin? Will a Champions League trophy this season keep him at Barcelona? So many questions, but only time will tell us what will happen to one of the greatest soccer players of our generation.