Sports moments of the week: Nov 17-23
Updated: 2014-11-24 10:56
Will Messi leave Barcelona?
FC Barcelona doesn't have a record when it comes to keeping its iconic players. Ronaldinho and Pep Guardiola are among many football stars that left the Catalan club for another. Will Lionel Messi follow in their path?
Such a possibility might have seemed far-fetched years ago, but the Argentine forward's recent comments have fanned speculation by suggesting he could consider ending his 14-year relationship with the club.
Speaking to Argentinean newspaper Ole during an international match, the four-time 'World Player of The Year' said, "While I always said that I would like to stay there (Barcelona) forever, sometimes not everything happens the way you want."
Amid the stir caused by Messi's words, potential buyers are watching closely at the 27-year-old's next move.
However, with a release clause of 250 million euros, there are a limited number of clubs able to afford the world's highest-paid footballer. Messi renewed his 20 million euro a year contract with Barcelona in May.
Messi's father and agent Jorge downplayed the "Barca departure" comments; even though Messi expressed his uncertainty about his future with the club.
While Messi has more influence than any Barca player both on and off the pitch, there have been signs that he is being increasingly sidelined this season. Barcelona bought in Luis Suarez to pair up with Neymar, a move meant to reduce the club's dependence on Messi.
Under new manager Luis Enrique, Messi is now less the goal machine and more playmaker. Although his impressive hat-trick in Barcelona's 5-1 rout over Servilla on Saturday have accumulated his La Liga goals to 253, making him the all-time top scorer in the Spanish first division, only 10 of the goals were made this season. In contrast, his long-time rival Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo scored 20 goals.
Messi seemed more comfortable when Spanish midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Andre Iniesta were on the pitch with him. The two Spaniards kept a rhythm during matches together and often cleverly pass the ball before Messi finishes.
Unfortunately that was the classic Xavi-Iniesta-Messi combination used by former manager Pep Guardiola, who spent his peak as a player in Barcelona. During his reign from 2008 to 2012, Guardiola coached the Catalan team to win all possible honors for a club, including two Champions League titles, three Spanish La Liga titles and two La Copa Del Rey trophies. Guardiola's stewardship of the club was a golden era for both the club and Messi.
Now with Guardiola moving to Germany and Xavi and Iniesta both declining and on the bench, Barcelona is experiencing the same transitional pain as it did in 2001 and 2008.
The club sold Guardiola in 2001 and Ronaldinho in 2008 respectively as the solution.