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Barcelona financial crisis meant Messi staying was not welcomed by all | Andy Mitten

Ruairi Carberry
Ruairi Carberry

15:51 20 Nov 2020

Lionel Messi eventually decided to stay at Barcelona after a tumultuous summer and the outcome was not welcomed by all at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona's financial strife is well documented at this point and the fissures that have been appearing at the club for the best part of a year are yet to narrow.

There were some close to the club who believed that if Messi had left for pastures new it would have relieved the pressure on Barcelona, according to journalist Andy Mitten.

"Messi was really upset after the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich," Mitten said when asked about the Argentine's future on Friday's OTB AM.

"Of course, you would be and that is when he decided to leave Barcelona. He thought he was exercising a clause in his contract to leave for free. He got it wrong, he left it too late. The club were actually right and would not let him leave."

Barcelona's financial crisis

It was no surprise that then-president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, whose relationship with Messi has deteriorated rapidly in the past 12 months, did everything he could to keep the player at Barcelona.

However, it says a lot about the club's poor finances that some were not happy with their captain staying in Barcelona.

"When he decided to stay I was really struck by the reaction from some fans, but [also] from people in the club. One person said to me, at quite a high level [at the club], and they were all talking to me off the record, it is really sensitive, 'I am gutted he stayed.

"I love him as a player and I love what he has done for this club but I love my family more and there is going to be more cutbacks."

Former Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu July 21, 2019 - Tokyo, Japan - Josep Maria Bartomeu President of FC Barcelona speaks during a reception party for the Rakuten Cup at ANA InterContinental Tokyo. European soccer teams FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC came to Japan to participate in the ''Rakuten Cup'' facing each other and also local team Vissel Kobe, where Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper are currently playing. (Credit Image: © Rodrigo Reyes Marin/ZUMA Wire)

Bartomeu is now gone, having resigned and there is no clarity as to whether Messi will remain beyond the current season. With less than a year left on his current deal at Barcelona, Messi will be able to speak to other suitors as of January.

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City came the closest that anyone else has to date to lure him from the Camp Nou and they will surely try once more in 2021.

Barcelona forward, Antoine Griezmann August 16, 2019, Bilbao, USA: BILBAO, SPAIN - AUGUST 16: Antoine Griezmann, forward of FC Barcelona looks during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona at San Mames stadium on August 16, 2019 in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Sanchez Martinez/Icon Sportswire) (Credit Image: © Carlos Sanchez Martinez/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

While last summer's turmoil seemed to have settled down as the La Liga campaign kicked off, inconsistency on the pitch, as well as comments from Antoine Griezmann's former agent have ignited the discussion over Messi's future once again.

Eric Olhats told France Football that Messi had made life difficult for Griezmann following the latter's arrival at Barcelona last year.

"Messi has power over everything. He is both the emperor and the king, and he did not like the arrival of Antoine," Olhats said.

Reports have since emerged that Messi is unhappy with continuously being blamed for the faults at the club.

Following his return from international duty, the star told reporters "the truth is that I'm a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club."

Will he stay or will he go?

Like August, Messi's future will likely be the biggest story in the world of sport. Will he remain at the club he joined as a teenager or finally take his supreme talent elsewhere?

Mitten expects Messi to stay in Catalunya, however, with Barcelona needing to plug their gaping financial wound, it is not outside the realms of possibility that we may see the man in other colours in the near future.

Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola File photo dated 29-12-2019 of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Should he move to City he would be compensated handsomely.

"I think a little bit of him likes the idea of playing in a different league. His relationship with Pep Guardiola is good, it was not always good.

"Barca needs the money and they will probably get money now for Messi rather than in two years time when he is 35."

Messi sat out Thursday's training session ahead of Barcelona's trip to league leaders Atletico Madrid, although he is expected to feature on Saturday evening at the Wanda Metropolitano.

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Barcelona Josep Maria Bartomeu La Liga Leo Messi Manchester City Pep Guardiola

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