Lionel Messi Barcelona Saga

       Lionel Messi, soccer’s Michael Jordan, shocked the world with a transfer request to leave Barcelona, a club his name had become synonymous with. After 17 triumphant years, Lionel Messi expressed his desire to leave Barcelona with a letter to the management brought into the public eye on August 25th. Messi claimed he’d previously discussed the idea with the club earlier in the 2019-20 season. These conversations relate to a clause in Lionel Messi’s contract which would allow him to leave the club for free during a certain period at the end of the season. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the window for his exit was essentially ignored as the season was still in progress. During that extended season, Barcelona suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in the club’s history, losing 8-2 in the UEFA Champions League to eventual champions Bayern Munich. Along with the brutal defeat, many fans believe that current club president Josep Maria Bartomeu is also to blame for Messi’s decision. Wheeling High School’s Jesse Hernandez shared his opinion of his favorite club’s manager. He believes that Bartomeu has let the club slip, making ineffective transfers and losing the club’s valuable youth talent as many of its older players begin to leave. He notably cited the recent player swap deal made to acquire 31 year-old Miralem Pjanic from Juventus, giving up 24 year-old Brazilian midfielder Arthur. WHS senior Kevin Zaragoza believes that the transfer Barcelona would need most is in defense, more specifically, a central defender as most of the mistakes that led to the Bayern Munich defeat came through the heart of the team. Bartomeu, however, had his eye on bringing in the €700 million price tag put on Messi through his release clause, a clause in his contract that, if paid, would allow any club to acquire his services pending the players agreement. The €700 million tag, however, is almost impossible to pay in the soccer world. For reference, the most expensive transfer in the history of the sport was when Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million in 2017, the price doesn’t even reach a third of Messi’s release clause. With Bartomeu refusing to let Messi go for anything less than the astronomical asking price set on him, Messi had one last hope of leaving Barcelona, taking them to court. Messi would be nearly guaranteed victory in the court case and would subsequently be allowed the exit from the club he desired. Surprisingly to some, Messi came out with a statement reversing his decision stating simply, “I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, which gave me everything since I arrived”. Messi’s loyalty to the club that had given him everything as he did in return pulled him back for another season. Regardless, the damage to the relationship between Lionel Messi and the Barcelona board had been done. Questions would begin to be asked about Messi’s drive and determination for the club. I asked WHS senior Joseph Aguirre for his opinion toward the matter, he simply stated, “It’s not going to affect him, he’s going to be the same player”. He added that the only real changes that would affect his play are those around him on the pitch. Lionel Messi’s transfer request is just another shock felt around the world following the trend that has been set this year. Barcelona kicked off their 2020/21 season with a 4-0 victory against Villarreal in the Spanish domestic league with Messi cementing his name on the score sheet with a penalty in the first half. With Messi most likely leaving after the conclusion of the season, the eyes of the world are watching Messi’s last dance.