After 19 years and 33 trophies together, the marriage of Messi and Barcelona is coming to an end.
Such is Lionel Messi’s legacy in the region, he has even become an honorary Catalan.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner now looks set to trade Camp Nou for a new home, having sent the club a burofax telling them he intends to finish his playing career somewhere else.
The Argentine arrived in Barcelona as a 13-year-old, but now 33, he has won every possible club trophy, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
It looked like he would never leave Barcelona, but after a tumultuous season, the impossible has happened.
Messi’s biggest annoyance has been how the club has handled itself off the pitch during the presidency of Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The dismissal of Ernesto Valverde in January disappointed the attacker, while Messi also believed that Bartomeu did not do enough to bring Neymar back to the club.
“I would have loved for Neymar to come,” he told Sport.
“Honestly, I don’t know if Barca did everything possible to get him back but I’m sure negotiating with PSG isn’t easy.”
Messi was dismayed with public criticism from technical secretary Eric Abidal, saying he should be more concerned with his own responsibilities and decisions.
These off-field distractions have affected Messi’s on-field performances, with Barcelona failing to win any trophies in 2019-20 – the first season they had gone trophyless since 2007-08.
The campaign ended with an 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.
That result was a disaster, but Messi leaving would be an even bigger disappointment for Barcelona.
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