Devil’s Advocate: Is Barcelona Better off without Lionel Messi?

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It’s been a couple of weeks since Lionel Messi shocked the football world by leaving Barcelona, but people still aren’t over the transfer. Somehow, the image of La Pulga in the navy blue of Paris Saint-Germain feels wrong. However, it’s happened and there’s nothing the Culés can do about the situation.

Well, there’s one thing – evaluate the future of the club. Right now, Barcelona is a mess, and Messi’s departure makes it twice as bad. Regardless, could there be an argument that the club may actually be better off in the long term without the Argentine?

Lower Expectations

After the team’s first La Liga game of the 2021-2022 season, Ronald Koeman said he thought it was the side’s best first-half performance under his reign, yet stressed he much preferred to have Messi in the squad, since he decides matches on his own. This is the primary issue with Messi – he’s far too good.

Without him, everyone can see Barcelona for what it is, which isn’t very healthy. The club lacks money, has been mismanaged to almost ruin and needs a serious rebuilding process to get back to the top of European and world football.

This is evidenced by the fact that Barcelona are the third-favourites in the La Liga outright football betting odds, currently staked at 11/4. If Messi was in the first XI, most fans and pundits would have assumed they would seriously challenge for honours, as they did during the last campaign due to his 30 league goals in 60 games.

However, Robert Lewandowski was the European Golden Shoe winner in 2021 with 41 goals in 82 games, leaving both of them with the same goals-per-game ratio. At least this term the football fraternity will be realistic about Barca’s chances.

Less Deadwood and More Shining Stars

Firstly, “deadwood” doesn’t refer to Messi. The well-seasoned player has persistently progressed, one-upping himself and defying odds at every opportunity, breaking records and populating the highest stats lists frequently.

The phrase describes the superstars that Barcelona paid a hell of a lot of money for, but arguably haven’t reaped advantages from. A prime example is Antoine Griezmann: when Messi was at the club, the hierarchy couldn’t offload the likes of Griezmann and Philipe Coutinho as it would have annoyed their captain. Unfortunately, they were on massive wages and reducing the opportunities for the new guard.

Once Messi left, the charade ended and Joan Laporta didn’t have to play politics. Griezmann, Miralem Pjanic and Junior Firpo all left, loosening the purse strings and providing fresh opportunities to the likes of Pedri and Ansu Fati, two men who look to be the future of the club.

Minimising the Damage

Sure, Messi leaving isn’t great and, without any money in the coffers, there hasn’t been much excitement in the transfer window for Barca fans. Unfortunately, that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Of course, it could have been worse if the replacements they signed were low-quality players. Thankfully, Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay are proven at the top level. Supporters shouldn’t expect the old days of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, but this squad could challenge for silverware in three to five years.

In the short term, Messi leaving is a disaster. In the long term, it may be what the club needs to reverse a decade of bad leadership.

Barcelona and getting back the La Liga title

Last season was a frustrating one for Barcelona, as they slipped down to a third placed finish, with Atletico Madrid picking up the La Liga title. It was a close battle throughout the season between Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid but the latter performances at the end of the campaign proved to be the difference. Looking at the last five matches and both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid both won four and drew once. Whereas Barcelona won two, drew two and lose once. That proved to be the key factor as to why they slipped to third place and it was a second successive season where they failed to win the title, despite starting as the favourites before the start of the campaign.

Barcelona finished the 2020/21 season having picked up 79 points from their 38 matches played. This included 24 wins, seven draws and seven losses and it also meant they finished seven points behind Atletico Madrid and five behind Real Madrid in second. It also meant they finished with three less points than the previous season and clearly underperformed over the campaign. It certainly led to major questions being answered and no more so than the fact that they let Suarez go and join title rivals Atletico Madrid, which proved to be a major mistake, with them going onto the land the title. Suarez also playing a major role in this and netting 30 goals in the process.

This result is going to be another tough one to take, with the club also continuing to go through financial struggles. This has even led to potential questions about the future of Lionel Messi, who also has his contract running out and will now be looking for a new deal, having not signed an extension yet. It is certainly now a very important period for the future success of the club and keeping Messi is going to be the first step to this future. He again finished as the top scorer in the league last season and again showed why he is one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

So, the big question now is whether they can get back to the top of the La Liga and win the title next season? They will start the season again as the favourites at a general 6/4, with Real Madrid then available at a general 7/4 and defending champions in at a general 4/1. Each have their supporters with fans looking at this Barbados casino review that is available, which covers a site offering the above odds on the event.

Laporta: Messi needs to decide soon

The Blaugrana president remains in regular contract with the club talisman who continues to run down his current deal

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is looking for Lionel Messi to make his contract call “as soon as possible”, with Sergio Aguero “helping” talk his fellow Argentine into penning fresh terms.

Uncertainty surrounding the future of six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi proved to be an unwelcome distraction at Camp Nou throughout the 2020-21 campaign.

Messi is still due to become a free agent this summer, but an extended stay at Barcelona is also being mooted and Laporta has stated his confidence on a regular basis when it comes to reaching an agreement.

Laporta remains optimistic but does want a decision, telling La Vanguardia: “I would like Messi to tell us ‘yes’ as soon as possible. He would help us in every way.”

He added: “Aguero is helping. He is telling him every day to stay.”

Laporta went on to say to online casinos australia that he is “in communication with [Messi] every other day”. The Barca president also claims to have been encouraged by the attitude of Messi during talks, adding: “He is excited and I am grateful to him for the desire he is showing to stay.”

Messi’s contract is due to expire on June 30, meaning that Barca are running out of time to get an extension in place. Interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain has been mooted, but no formal discussions have been held.

Messi is away on international duty at the 2021 Copa America, but has always made it clear that he will not be rushing into any decision on his future.

While still waiting on Messi to put pen to paper, Barca have been working hard to get fresh faces on board. Deals have been done for Aguero, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, with Dutch forward Memphis Depay the latest to arrive on a two-year contract.

Laporta hopes there is more business to be done, saying to real money casinos that the Blaugrana are looking to make “three of four more signings” this summer.

He has however conceded that the financial situation he inherited when taking presidential reins for a second time is “worse than what I had expected”, with Barca managing crippling debts.

Laporta stealing City players

The Catalan giants have been linked with a raft of City players  according to best aussie online casino as tensions between the clubs ease following Joan Laporta’s return to Camp Nou

Barcelona have already been linked with that many Manchester City players this summer that fans have joked to expect a bid for club mascot, Moonchester, in the coming days.

City’s greatest ever goalscorer, Sergio Aguero, and Spain international Eric Garcia have already made the switch from the Etihad Stadium to Camp Nou, and a number of of Pep Guardiola’s other players have been speculated to follow.

Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Joao Cancelo have all been linked with transfers to Barca in the short time since the end of the season.

While all made at least 27 appearances for City as they won the Premier League and Carabao Cup before reaching the Champions League final, a small shake-up of the first-team squad is expected.

But that will only happen if Guardiola can find suitable replacements, which will not be easy this summer given the state of football’s finances in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

City already need a replacement for Aguero with Tottenham’s Harry Kane leading their wanted list, and any bid for the England captain will be partly funded by the sale of previous loan players and fringe members of the squad.

Other new arrivals, though, will be dependent on how many senior players leave through the exit door.

City will be charged top rate for potential targets, with Aston Villa hoping to get close to £100 million ($140m) for Jack Grealish, but finding cash-rich buyers for any departures will be tougher.

Barcelona, for example, continue to be linked with some of the world’s best players it’s been reported on best online casino usa. Erling Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola and father Alf-Inge were spotted at Camp Nou over the spring, and there are other superstars rumoured to be on their radar too.

Most recently, a raid of City’s squad has been talked up in the media, but given the extent of their financial problems, which were revealed in January when the club’s annual financial report showed their debt had reached €1.2 billion (£1.1bn/$1.5bn), they have spent the summer so far collecting free agents.

Aguero was signed on a free transfer, as was Garcia after they failed to find funds to sign the 20-year-old for a knockdown price last summer or again in January..

Lyon forward Memphis Depay also arrived for nothing on Saturday, though his Netherlands team-mate Gini Wijnaldum opted for Paris Saint-Germain despite strong interest from the Blaugrana in the ex-Liverpool man.

Barca’s biggest outlay of the summer in terms of a transfer fee came when they spent just €9m (£8m/$11m) on Real Betis full-back Emerson Royal.

Making a move for any City players, however, will be less straightforward, with the Premier League champions wanting a realistic price for players that have already shown their quality.

Possible swap deals have been mooted, with Barca needing to streamline their squad and reduce their wage bill.

Sergi Roberto, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Samuel Umtiti are among the Barca players that could potentially be used as make-weights, but Guardiola only wants players that will strengthen his side and not just manoeuvre his squad for the sake of it.

City, therefore, have no interest in such creative transfers even if relations between the two clubs have improved substantially since Joan Laporta was elected as the new president in March.

City CEO Ferran Soriano, director of football Txiki Begiristain and Guardiola all worked with Laporta during his first stint as Barca president between 2003-2010, and know him well

Guardiola last week played golf with both the 58-year-old and current Barca coach Ronald Koeman in Mallorca, which was in stark contrast to the public fallout Guardiola had with Laporta’s predecessor, Josep Maria Bartomeu, after he had welcomed UEFA sanctions for City breaking Financial Fair Play rules.

While that verdict was subsequently overturned on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Guardiola fired a broadside at Bartomeu, warning: “Don’t talk too loud, Barcelona, that’s my advice, because everybody is involved in situations.”

Emotions have turned around to such an extent that Guardiola, who joined the Catalans’ famed La Masia academy as a 13-year-old and went on to win every top trophy in Europe as a player and then again as a manager, described Barca as the “club of my heart” when he revealed Aguero would be heading there this summer.

Although Guardiola has previously permanently ruled out ever returning as a coach, which would be Laporta’s dream, it is welcome to see fractured connections being repaired.

City are expected to be announced to be the opponents in Barca’s annual Joan Gamper Trophy, the traditional season curtain-raiser at Camp Nou where the first-team squad is unveiled to supporters.

The fixture is likely to go ahead in late August, after the Premier League has started, with the fixture also used to raise money for charity.

But while the goodwill has improved, both clubs know that when it comes to the business of transfer dealings, attitudes are more serious.

The Premier League champions have shown in previous dealings, from Leroy Sane’s delayed move to Bayern Munich to walking way from overpriced demands for Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly last summer, that they will not roll over in the transfer market.

If Barca have an interest in any of City players, they will need to come up with a serious financial proposal. Restored friendships will only get them so far.

Koeman: Messi has to stay

According to best online casinos australia The Blaugrana boss believes fresh terms will be agreed with a talismanic figure at Camp Nou, preventing him from hitting free agency

Ronald Koeman says Lionel Messi “has to finish his career at Barcelona”, with the Blaugrana boss expecting a contract extension for the mercurial Argentine to be announced “soon”.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is yet to make an official decision on his future, with the 33-year-old still seeing his current deal run down towards free agency.

The expectation is, however, that he will extend a career-long association with the Liga heavyweights, with fresh terms on the table and ready to be signed.

Koeman told best real money casino sites when asked for an update on a long-running saga in Catalunya: “Messi has to finish his career at Barcelona, so I hope we can make it official soon.”

Barca president Joan Laporta has stated on a regular basis, even before he returned to office at Camp Nou, that he believes Messi will stay put.

That message has been reiterated, although he has suggested that paperwork will not be completed imminently by a man currently away on Copa America duty with his country.

“The renewal isn’t at an advanced stage,” Laporta has admitted.

“It’s okay, I believe that Leo’s boots will stay on Camp Nou’s pitch.

“I can’t contemplate a no from Messi; he wants to stay. We’re doing what we can but there’s no need to seduce him.”

While waiting on a call from Messi, Barca are working hard to put more pieces of a trophy-winning puzzle in place alongside their iconic captain.

Deals have been done for Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, while Memphis Depay is expected to complete a switch from Lyon as a free agent.

Koeman is pleased with progress being made on the recruitment front, with the Dutchman adding: “We are working on building a competitive team, one that will be much stronger than in previous seasons.”