Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona appears less doubtful with a new president set to be sworn in and his family settled in Spain… but the Argentine is keeping his cards close to his chest with just six months left on his deal
- Lionel Messi’s Barcelona future looks less doubtful going into the new year
- He appeared to show faith by watching a game during his Christmas break
- Messi fell out with ex-chief Josep Bartomeu but likes candidate Joan Laporta
- The Argentine’s family want him to stay in Spain but would support a move to US
- With six months on his deal, his priority is to help Barca win a trophy this season
It feels as if a ‘Messiometer’ was installed at the Nou Camp when the transfer window opened on New Year’s Day. The needle will now swing from ‘going’ to ‘staying’ over the next six months as the future of Barcelona’s greatest ever player remains in the balance.
When he turned up at a bitingly cold Nou Camp on Tuesday to watch the team play Eibar, despite having been given an extended break for Christmas, it seemed like a show of faith and the Swingometer edged towards ‘remain’. When Barcelona failed to win the game and he shuffled out of the ground shaking his head, it seemed to edge back towards ‘go’.
Real Madrid are certainly very keen for Messi to move to Paris Saint Germain because it will hugely increase their chances of getting Kylian Mbappe out of the French capital. Not for nothing that on January 1 Marca’s front page trumpeted Messi now being in the last six months of his contract and free to negotiate with other clubs. There was no such mention of Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric being in exactly the same situation.
Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has now entered the last six months of his contract
The forward was pictured watching his side’s game from the stands despite being given extra time off over Christmas
What Madrid want will not play any part in his decision of course. So what will? The result of the January election, the feelings of his family, and the progress of the young players at the club are likely to be key factors.
Messi was clear in the interview he did for Spanish television. last Sunday that he remains undecided. ‘I’m not at all sure about my future,’ he told journalist Jordi Evole. ‘I’m going to wait until the season ends I don’t know if I will go or not but if I do I want to go in the best way possible.’
If the election was tomorrow Joan Laporta would win it and if he does become president on January 24 then that would favour the Messi-staying scenario. He likes the 57-year-old lawyer who was president when he won his first two Champions Leagues; he is the man he most trusts to guide the club back to Champions League glory.
Barca presidential candidate Joan Laporta (left) is liked by Messi and if he wins it could see the six-time Ballon d’Or winner stay at the Nou Camp
Laporta told Sportsmail in a recent interview that he believes Messi has not made his mind up over his future, and that belief is likely founded in having exchanged messages with Messi’s father Jorge who Laporta has never lost contact with over his years away from the club.
Messi’s family will play a big part in his decision. The plan is to uproot the clan for a new adventure in the US at some point before he retires, most probably after the Qatar World Cup.
Messi’s family want that to be the only move on the horizon. If his decision is to be based solely on the preference of wife and three children he will stay in Spain for two more seasons after this one and then head to Miami. If he ends up moving to Manchester or Paris it will be against the preference of those closest to him.
Messi’s family want him to stay in Spain before a move to the United States in two years time
They will of course support him if he goes for his career and for that dream of winning another Champions League before he retires. That provokes another doubt as he purveys the options. Will moving to the Etihad or Parc des Principes really improve his chances of winning the Champions League?
Barcelona may have fallen on hard times but they at least have competition pedigree. City and PSG have never won the competition and their owners’ riches have not delivered the European Cup so far.
Would a move to either club really ‘guarantee silverware’? even with Pep Guardiola’s presence at City and Neymar’s at PSG. It would certainly be a challenge to help either club win its first Champions League, but so would be helping Barcelona rise from the ashes. He will need to decide in June which challenge is more attractive.
A Laporta victory at the polls will not be the miracle cure for Barcelona’s economic problems either. Messi admitted to Evole that he is well aware the club is in a bad way ‘a very bad’ way. That means the club has to play the hand it’s currently holding, and do it better than it has been doing in recent seasons.
A reunion with former manager Pep Guardiola (left) could be tempting but Messi has confidence Ronald Koeman (right) can get the best out of Barca’s young players
Of late Messi has been happy with the emergence of young players such as 18-year-old attacking midfielder Pedri, 20-year-old full-back Sergino Dest and it’s no secret he’s a fan of 18-year-old Ansu Fati. He also has faith that Ronald Koeman can get the best out of these players. And if he can’t then Xavi will, and the legendary former captain’s refusal to pin his colours to the Victor Font mast underline how he is just as likely to join the good ship Laporta if Laporta wins then he is to become Font’s manager.
Font is second favourite to lead the club from January 24 and he has already said his first order of business on the 24th if he wins will be to call Messi. Messi is unlikely to make an immediate announcement after the election. He will wait until the end of the season or at least until Barcelona’s chances of winning anything are over.
In Friday’s first session of 2021 he trained well and will play on Sunday against Huesca. His priority is saving this Barcelona season then we will find out what he plans to do beyond this campaign. What happens between now and then could still go a long way to helping him make his mind up.
If Barcelona salvage something from this season with the young players proving decisive and Laporta taking over, he is likely to stay. If the season continues to crumble and another candidate triumphs with a mandate of radical change, he may feel his departure should be part of that revolution and finally say adios.
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