Pep Guardiola has urged Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona amid speculation he could leave the Nou Camp and reunite with his old boss at Manchester City.
Messi has had a public bust-up with Eric Abidal and has an exit clause in his contract. Is Lionel Messi’s time at Barcelona nearly up?
Messi and Barcelona have been a golden combination for the best part of two decades. But after calling out sporting director Eric Bidal on social media this week, and with a clause in his contract allowing him to leave on a free this summer, there are suggestions a break-up could be on the cards.
- The Argentinian has been linked with a Pep Guardiola reunion at Manchester City, under whom he twice won the Champions League as well as three La Liga titles across four remarkable years at the Nou Camp. Messi also won four of his six Ballons d’Or during their time together.
- A departure from the Spanish champions has often been spoken about but the rhetoric has changed, in so much as club legend Lobo Carrasco told Spanish TV this week: “It’s the first time Messi has looked to me like he has one foot out of the door.”
In an interview with Catalan newspaper Sport on Tuesday, Abidal claimed “lots of players were not satisfied [with former head coach Ernesto Valverde] and nor did they work a lot”
He added: “There was also an issue of internal communication. The relationship manager-dressing room has always been good but there are things, as a former player, I can smell. I told the club what I thought and that [I thought] a decision had to be made.”
Messi fought back on Instagram, posting a picture of the interview, circling the area of contention which read: “The man in charge of the sporting directorate explains that ‘lots of players were not satisfied and nor did they work much’.”
The Argentine subsequently denied that Valverde’s sacking was the players’ responsibility and accused Abidal of “dirtying” the squad.
Abidal is a former teammate of Messi’s but can they still work together?
“Honestly, I don’t like doing these things but I think that everyone has to be responsible for his acts and take responsibility for their own decisions,” Messi wrote.
“The players [are responsible for] what happens on the pitch, and we have been the first to recognize when we were not good. The people in the sporting directorate should also assume their responsibility and above all take ownership of the decisions they make.
“Finally, I think that when players are talked about, names should be given because, if not, we are all being dirtied and it feeds comments that are made and are not true.”
Will the unthinkable really happen?
Messi looks dejected during the defeat by Bilbao on Thursday night
Speculation that the 32-year-old could be angling for a move has not slowed down, and the timing of Barcelona’s late 1-0 defeat by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarter-final on Thursday will not help.
Messi admitted in the summer he wanted the club to sign Neymar, which they failed to do.
“I don’t know if they did everything they could,” he said.