This Friday was no news dump in sports, since Lionel Messi made the fútbol world shake by announcing that he is, in fact, staying with FC Barcelona while smartly taking back the narrative by granting an exclusive interview where he was able to put the blame on everybody but himself, especially Barcelona president and corruption investigation subject Josep María Bartomeu.
Messi tried to emulate Anthony Davis with an NBA-style, pre-free agency power move and he failed miserably at it, and he has no one but himself to blame.
All in all, what he ended up pulling was a media stunt that bought him an extra week of vacation missing only a few practices, no matches whatsoever and only hurt the ones that always end up getting hurt and then asked to forgive: The fans.
Manchester City and PSG were led on, Newell’s fans in his native Rosario made a massive caravan happen in order to try to convince him to come back to his original hometown…and then nothing happened.
Let´s make this clear: Is Bartomeu a tool who should resign and absolutely deserves the scorn coming his way? Yes.
Is the “It’s not June 10 anymore, so the end of season clause isn’t valid anymore” bullshit? Absolutely, Messi is right about that and he should be able to walk away as a free agent with no strings attached if he so wishes.
Is Messi also being manipulative and trying to make it seem as if he is just an innocent bystander in the flaming car crash that is Barcelona after the humiliating 8-2 loss against eventual champion Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals? No doubt about it, in my mind.
Just like when he said he would quit playing for Argentina in 2016 because he just couldn’t stand the thought of having lost three consecutive championship games. The media went nuts, fans clamored for him to reconsider, and then he came back as if nothing happened without missing a beat.
His main argument was that he didn’t want to take Barcelona – the club that he so loves and has played for his whole career, the one that saved him from desperation in Argentina to bring him glory – to court.
Oh, please, cry me a river, Lionel. What did you expect to happen when you sent scathing “burofaxes” (legally binding letters) to the Barcelona board of executives? Did you expect them to just willingly throw away their political futures as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue without a fight?
Grow. Up. You are 33 years old, and if your dad and your brother didn’t see that coming then you should consider being advised by other people.
The press was “mean” to him with supposedly fake stories. He set up this whole public relations affair through the press, only sitting down to talk with his new coach once throughout the negotiations.
He also said that his wife and kids were distraught at the thought of leaving the city they have made their home for the past two decades, but that didn’t deter him from wanting to play for a more “competitive” team. So you wanted to bail at the first sign of adversity for your team in 15 years regardless of the cost? Got it.
Messi is not wrong to have felt manipulated and deceived by a technicality, but he also is no saint.
This twisted marriage between a desperate team and an aging superstar will provide plenty of fodder for the tabloids from now until his contract expires in June of next year.
If I was a betting man, however, I would put my money on him not going anywhere. He has shown not once, but twice in four years that his threats are empty. Barcelona fans deserve better than that from their all-time greatest player.