Through 2017/18 to 2019/20, Barcelona were managed by Ernesto Valverde for two and a half seasons before Quique Setien was asked to take over after the former Athletic Club manager was sacked.
While Barcelona went nearly undefeated in the league in his first season, and won two league titles in the process, they also suffered form horrific back-to-back losses in the Champions League at the hands of AS Roma and then Liverpool.
Both teams came from behind to win 3-0 and 4-0 respectively. And if this was not enough, the Catalans were drawn up against Bayern Munich in the 2019/20 season on a neutral venue in Lisbon.
The Bavarians beat Barcelona 8-2, which is not only the club’s worst defeat in the 21st century, but also the biggest moment of stain on Lionel Messi’s career.
The Argentine did not take it well, either, and was ready to leave the Camp Nou following this defeat, as per Martí Perarnau’s book ‘Dios Salve a Pep’ (God Save Pep), relayed by AS.
He offered his services to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and was ready to leave Barcelona if they sent a bid through. He felt ‘uncomfortable’ at the club, and wanted to leave as soon as possible.
This is when the ‘bureaufax’ saga went down, and Messi attacked at the time president Josep Bartomeu in an interview, claiming that he had kept him as a prisoner at Barcelona.
Guardiola had agreed to the move, and had even promised to renew his contract with Manchester City if Messi ended up joining them that summer window.
However, the move did not end up going through because of Bartomeu, and his mammoth €750 million release clause.
Messi ended up staying that season, and was due for a contract extension with Barcelona under the presidency of Joan Laporta. The club could not renew him due to financial fair play issues, though, and he ended up joining PSG on a free transfer.