Barcelona’s Argentine superstar Lionel Messi will have problems if he continues to play for the Spanish football powerhouse this season, a Turkish football pundit said Monday.
“I thought that Messi would retire from football at Barcelona. But an extraordinary thing happened this summer: Without Messi’s knowledge, Barcelona agreed with Ronald Koeman for the first team head coach position. The crisis between Messi and the club arose after the board’s intention that Barcelona wants to end Messi’s hegemony,” Serkan Akcan, a football pundit working for the Turkish sports platform Tivibuspor, told Anadolu Agency.
Akcan is also a columnist at the Turkish sports daily Fanatik.
“Koeman was not Messi’s choice. Besides, the club decided not to continue with their Uruguayan star, Luis Suarez [this summer]. So Messi took a risk to get away from his comfort zone,” Akcan said.
He added that the 33-year-old Barca captain has been a powerful football figure who previously had the say in hiring the head coaches for Barcelona and Argentina’s national football team as well as their squads.
Akcan stated that Messi will be “negatively affected as long as Barcelona does not fulfill his wishes, so I think he will absolutely face problems.”
Messi is a pure Barcelona product, coming from La Masia, FC Barcelona’s youth academy, and has been playing for Barcelona’s senior team since 2005.
The Argentine international scored 634 goals and made 285 assists in 731 appearances for Barcelona.
He is also the star for the Argentine national team, scoring 70 goals in 138 caps.
Messi may lock horns with Koeman this season
The next part of the Barcelona crisis would be seen between Messi and Koeman, Akcan said.
“If Messi plays for his team, the possible conflicts between him and Koeman will make headlines most probably.”
Also, he said if tensions between them continue, Messi may not play the game until June 2021, when his deal at Barcelona will run out.
Dutch football legend Koeman took the helm of Barca until 2022. The 57-year-old — a former Barcelona star — is now a high-profile manager who has worked for the Dutch national team since 2018.
Man City approach Messi
Pep Guardiola-led Manchester City has been interested in Messi, and it was previously claimed that he had come to an agreement with the English club.
“Messi will be 34 next year. Unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi is a superstar who plays the game with his pure talent. He will not face any problem if he moves to a team managed by Guardiola,” Akcan said.
Guardiola has been coaching Manchester City since 2016. The 49-year-old Spanish national managed Barcelona’s first team from 2008-2012 to win the UEFA Champions League twice, in 2009 and 2011.
Messi must wait for one season to walk free as the Argentine forward renewed his deal with Barcelona in 2017 and his contract is set to conclude next year.
Akcan noted that Messi is the most talented and special player on the globe, but he owes his glorious career to Barcelona.
“In his childhood, Messi had medical problems, but he beat them thanks to Barcelona and became a football superstar,” he said.
Messi suffered from a growth hormone disorder when he was a kid. His parents could barely afford to pay for hormone injections in Argentina.
Messi and his family traveled to Spain from South America in 2001 as Barcelona paid for all his medical needs to acquire him for the club’s famous football academy, La Masia.
Enormous release fee
Last week, Messi said he decided to stay at the Spanish side for one more season.
Before his decision, the Spanish football league’s organizer, La Liga, blocked Messi’s free transfer before 2021 and ordered a €700 million ($828.2 million) release fee to be paid to Barcelona.
“Messi is obliged to pay his release clause — €700 million — if he unilaterally terminates his contract under the current rules,” La Liga had said.
So Messi stayed at Barcelona to conclude his contract.
Messi is a 10-time Spanish champion and won four UEFA Champions League titles with Barcelona in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015.
He also claimed three FIFA Club World Cup trophies in 2009, 2011 and 2015.