Lionel Messi has not attended Barça’s PCR tests on Sunday as he forces a move outside the club. But is he right to do that to his fans?
Everything comes to an end in the world of football. The greatest footballers start tiring out and fans who saw their idols grow see all of them drop like flies after 15 to 20 years at the top level. The fans’ kids also have their favourites, but their parents will always remind them of the greats that constituted the history of their mythical clubs, even in times of despair.
The superclubs have built the history of the games and their legends are always remembered. From Johan Cruyff’s Ajax and Barcelona teams to Lionel Messi’s Barça, passing by Franz Beckenbauer’s Bayern and World Cup-winning Germany squads accompanied by Paolo Maldini’s 20 years at AC Milan, following his dad’s, Cesare, path at the legendary Milanese club, fans of the historic clubs have had more legends than they can remember.
At Barcelona, players have come and go, but never did the culés forget about them, even more than 20 years after their retirement. Josep Samitier, László Kubala, Johan Cruyff, Migueli, Ronald Koeman, Pep Guardiola, Ronaldinho or Lionel Messi, these players are anchored in the blaugranas‘ history forever and ever, and the Catalans will always have a soft spot for them. When Koeman came back as a coach, for example, the decision wasn’t bashed on by the fans and his hands-on approach, especially towards legends of the club, hasn’t been criticised yet.
The last player mentioned has had the best history with the club, spending 17 years carrying a club to Champions League titles, La Liga walks in the park and trebles. Lionel Messi‘s 17 years as a Barça first-team member has surely come to an end, and the Argentine’s demanding to go after three humiliations in as many years.
Messi, Barcelona’s captain, is letting the club’s most loyal fans down | Photo by Pau Barrena via Getty Images
On Sunday, at the set day for his return to the Ciutat Espotiva, Messi has not attended the PCR test at Barça after his lawyers had advised him against it. After the Arthur Melo saga, where he didn’t come to the Champions League preparation, Messi is showing his middle finger to the board after no changes announced by Josep Maria Bartomeu other than kicking out Quique Setién, the least the president can do after a 2–8 demolition in Europe’s premier competition.
Now, Messi wanting to leave is his right, but not showing up to a club meeting is a whole other level of nonchalance towards the board. Standing up to the board is the least Messi could do, more so after he backed up his coach after Roma and Anfield and blamed the loss on themselves, the players. Now, with a trophyless season and a lost sporting project, there is nothing left for the number 10 at Barcelona and he has to leave for his own good.
Leaving is Messi’s right, yet throwing this tantrum seems a bit exaggerated, even from the greatest player of the club’s history. Going on strike is something, and shows how much he has lost connection with the club and has his heart set on Manchester City, Juventus or PSG, or any other club that will offer him a project that will work.
“We want to build another winning cycle alongside the best player in the world. We all continue to count on Messi. We are not contemplating a departure of Messi. We want Messi to stay. We are working internally to convince Messi to stay. Messi has not told us that he’s not going to show up for training”Ramon Planes, Barcelona’s technical secretary on Wednesday
Some fans have asked themselves if Lionel Messi is disrespecting the fans by not attending the PCR tests. That question is a conundrum because of the facts that are on the table. On one hand, the club is always bigger than the player and everyone should comply with its rule, even if they do not agree with the project in place and the president. On the other hand, Messi is the best player in this club and has carried Barça for so long, he deserves a break and he deserves to get out of the club, despite his demands seeming exaggerated. Yet even with Bartomeu refusing to sell Messi, going on strike is not the best way to get what you want, as Barça are referring to his €700-million release clause and don’t seem like they will budge.
All in all, Messi can leave, it’s his right, but he might be doing too much by going on strike, mostly for the people who have supported him for the past 20 years, throughout thick and thin, even when he was convicted for tax fraud. Not showing and not speaking up is the worst way to make your transfer come true from every angle possible.
Everything Barça fans know about the situation thanks to the rumours and the newspaper, Messi never was honest and talked about it on social media or anywhere else. Is it fair on the culés? No, but it’s Messi’s choice and everyone should respect it. Is Messi right to go on strike? Probably not, but then again, he has the right to do whatever he wants with his future.
Why Erling Braut Håland should be Barcelona’s future number 9
While he would be an unconventional player at the club, why should Barcelona target Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Håland after the departure of Luis Suárez?
A 19-year-old Erling Braut Håland took the footballing world by storm last year when he scored a hat-trick of goals on his Champions League debut and then went on to become only the second teenager to score in each of his first three appearances in the competition.
In the winter transfer window, Håland moved from Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg to German side Borussia Dortmund in hopes of both improving his game and leading Lucien Favre’s side to the Bundesliga title. The Norwegian wonderkid ended the Bundesliga season with 13 goals and 3 assists in 15 games, and Dortmund finished second on the table.
Håland’s 44-goal season put him on the radar of all the top clubs in the world, and while the striker is at the top of his game at Dortmund, his departure to a top European club in the future is inevitable at some point. Following club legend Luis Suárez‘s departure from Barcelona, the Catalan club is surely looking for El Pistolero‘s heir. With Barcelona looking for a top striker for the future, and the Norwegian machine looking at a European giant to move to, Håland might just be the name that reads on Barcelona’s number 9 shirt.
The transfer market is unpredictable, and Håland’s agent being notorious superagent – and supervillain – Mino Raiola, makes things even more complicated. Instead of looking at if Barcelona will seek Håland’s services, this article will look at why Barcelona should seek Håland’s services.
To begin with, let’s talk about Håland’s statistics. In the 2019/20 season, he scored 44 and assisted 10 goals. 10 of the goals were in the Champions League. He scored more goals than expected with his G90, 1.10, being higher than his xG90, 0.75. It has been established that Håland is a goalscoring machine. The Norwegian’s physique is absolutely astounding. At 6 feet 4 inches (1.94 metres), Håland provides quite the aerial threat, something the blaugrana club severely lacks.
In spite of his towering height, Håland is incredibly fast; he reached a top speed of 36 km/h and was 0.3 seconds off from breaking the world record for a 60-metre sprint. Football has evolved in recent years, with training facilities improving and more money being invested in fitness training, players have become more athletic. A striker who will face off against athletic defenders definitely needs to be a physical demon.
When at RB Salzburg, Barcelona rejected to sign Erling Braut Håland because he did not have the suited profile | Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos via Getty Images
Does Håland have the technical ability of a prime Luis Suárez or of a Samuel Eto’o? No. Would he be heavily involved in the build-up play like some of Barcelona’s preceding number 9s? No. If Håland was to join, he would be the most uncreative player in the squad, and believe it or not, that is exactly what Barcelona needs right now.
The recurring humiliations in the Champions League knockout stages have had one thing in common – apart from the poor defence –: the lack of a runner. Every elite team in Europe has elite runners: PSG have Kylian Mbappé, Liverpool have Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mané, Bayern have Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry.
The Barcelona team, all these years, has been stacked with players who love having the ball at their feet all the time – Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann…The reason Messi’s last few years have been wasted is that he hasn’t been provided with a runner to get at the end of his through balls. This problem cannot occur again.
Barcelona’s future lies with talented playmakers like Francisco Trincão, Pedri, Riqui Puig, etc, and these playmakers need a proficient and clinical striker with good off the ball movement, to score goals for the team. Håland doesn’t only have a good physique, he is also an intelligent footballer. He knows how to time runs, how to hold the defence, and is a lethal shooter of the ball.
Erling Braut Håland would be quite an unorthodox signing for Barcelona. Quite unlike all of his predecessors. But if the club’s transfer policy fails to evolve while the game itself is evolving, then the Catalan club is going to become a relic of the past. A player like Lionel Messi is never going to appear again. Thus, after his departure, if Barcelona want to dominate in Europe like they once did, the team is going to have to function like a system, and Erling Håland is the piece that fits the puzzle the best.
So apart from everything discussed in this article, why should Erling Håland join Barcelona? Well, in his own words: why not?