Neymar gone, Messi transfer rumors, Iniesta unhappy? What's wrong at FC Barcelona?
Why one of the world's most famous clubs has gone from a dream to a nightmare
When Neymar left Barcelona for PSG two weeks ago, it did more than just shatter the transfer record by more than doubling it. It turned the nutty, abnormal transfer market on its head and transmitted the message to the entire world that no player is untouchable, that every player now has a price. That means Cristiano Ronaldo and his $1 billion buyout clause or Lionel Messi and his $300 million clause could be in play.
As a result, speculation over the future of Lionel Messi has picked up, and form hasn't helped. Barca lost the Spanish Super Cup to Real, was unimpressive in its La Liga opener against Real Betis on Sunday (2-0 win), lacking conviction in attack (not helped by Messi hitting the frame three times) and the team looks like it isn't quality enough to contend with mighty Real Madrid.
Here's what you should know about the crazy times at Barca and Messi's situation:
The Messi to Manchester City rumor is back
Never too shy for sensationalizing stories, the British media (The Daily Record in this instance), claims -- without citing any sources on the matter -- that Lionel Messi's reps are talking to Manchester City about a potential move. Last month, Barcelona announced the renewal of Messi's contract until June 30, 2021. However, the Goal.com is reporting that Messi has yet to sign on the dotted line and the British tabloid claims Messi isn't happy with the roster after Neymar's departure and the lack of splash signings in the transfer window. All the team has brought in has been Paulinho and they've been unable to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.
This rumor certainly feels false, but there was a point where the Neymar rumors seemed false as well so it can't be discounted completely.
The report suggests there was a meeting between Messi reps and Manchester City in a Barcelona restaurant last week. Nobody has substantiated the report, however.
Butthat a team could trigger that clause...
Neymar bashes Barca board from Paris
On Sunday, Neymar bashed the Barcelona board, saying other players are unhappy as well, according to ESPNFC..
"I spent four years there and was very happy. I began happy, spent four years happy and left happy. But not with the (the board)," Neymar said. "For me, they shouldn't be in charge of Barca. Barca deserves much better, and everyone knows this.
"To see my former teammates unhappy makes me sad also, because I have many friends [there]. I hope that things get better for Barca. That they return to the team they were and become one that can compete with the others."
Club legend Iniesta also unhappy?
Neymar didn't mention which players are actually unhappy with the front office, but El Pais spoke with midfielder Andres Iniesta, who talked about his uncertain future, fueling the fire.
"I've still not renewed," he said.
"I've experienced a lot of sensations I've not known before, but I think they're normal. It's a scenario which three years ago I could never have imagined.
"Let's say I'm thinking about my future when before I wasn't."
Former Barca president speaks against current president
And then on top of it, former Barcelona president Joan Laporta bashed current president Josep Bartomeu
"If we want Messi to continue to be happy at Barca then we have to get rid of Bartomeu immediately," he wrote. He didn't go into it any further, because, after all, Twitter only allows 140 characters. That said, those are obviously strong words from the former president of Barca, who in charge during two Champions League title runs. Now the issue he has with Bartomeu could be around the poor transfer record the team has had the last few years (Paco Alcacer, Arda Turan, Andre Gomes, etc.) or because of the strong comments Neymar had about the board.
There's no doubt that had Barcelona beaten Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, the reaction probably wouldn't be as strong. Winning cures everything. There feels to be a perception that this is a 'bad' Barca that can't match up with Real Madrid, which is just based of three matches this campaign and losing Neymar. Certainly seems a bit premature.
So, what's going to happen?
It's hard to tell what will happen. The priorities are to get Messi signed and put together a better squad. With Luis Suarez out a month due to injury, it will be up to Messi to generate most of everything in attack. It's obviously early and the losses to Real Madrid were in what's really a glorified preseason competition. There's still so much time for Barca to find form, while there's 10 days to bring in new players.
In the end, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Messi is not finishing the prime of his career at Barcelona, especially as he's expected to sign a new contract. But if Messi were to leave, it would be a blow the Catalan club probably couldn't recover from for quite a while.
But as Neymar's move has taught us, in this era of soccer, absolutely anything can happen, no matter how crazy it seems.
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