It’s a situation that nobody connected with Barcelona wants to think about, but the possibility of Lionel Messi leaving is one that still appears to exist.
After a terrible season where the Catalans won nothing for the first time since 2008 and ended the campaign with a devastating 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, the Argentinian could be on his way.
With presidential elections due at the club in March 2021, candidate, Victor Font, doesn’t want to contemplate losing the best player that the club have ever had.
“I believe there’s a risk (of losing Messi) and it gives me nightmares,” he said to Sport.
“Messi is vital to this club, the most important player in its entire history and it’ll only grow after he retires.
“The relationship between Messi and Barça must continue after he’s hung up his boots. He should be the image of this club and its growth throughout the world.”
Font also had strong words to say about current presidential incumbent, Josep Maria Bartomeu.
“He’s detached from reality,” he continued, cited by Sport.
“I don’t know if he lives in a parallel universe or what. His comments were disappointing. It’s irresponsible that he didn’t step down and put the club’s interests ahead of his own.
“Another clear example as to why the current model has to be changed. Bartomeu reads the comments in the newspapers but he doesn’t listen to what the supporters are saying in the streets.
“He acted as if Roma, Anfield and Lisbon didn’t exist.”
With Ronald Koeman only having just been announced as the new manager, it seems that if Font were elected, he would immediately install Xavi in the position – even if Koeman had won the treble – but would offer the Dutchman a role.
“I wish, and I mean this from my heart, Koeman and Barça win the treble,” he said, cited by Sport.
“I’m sure that Xavi, at the head of this project, would find a place for Koeman’s talent too.”
Clearly, the atmosphere surrounding the club remains toxic at present, and it will be interesting to see how well Font’s perceived hard line goes down with both players and supporters alike.
It could well influence with Messi stays or goes, if he hasn’t already made up his mind before election time.